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School district’s superintendent search delayed until new board can be seated

In the aftermath of the recall election, the search for a new superintendent to lead San Francisco Unified School District will be extended. 

The application process will remain open for another month or through the end of March and a candidate selected in May, the district announced Friday. Commissioners originally planned to start reviewing resumes next week.

“Logistically, it would be too hard,” said Board President Gabriela López, who was recalled Tuesday. “We have decided that, as a board, it makes sense for that work to happen later. Given the candidates want to know who they will be working with, that [application deadline] is going to be extended.”

Under the original timeline, commissioners would have narrowed the field of applicants starting in late February, made a final decision in April, and the new superintendent would have started work July 1.

But replacements for Lopez and commissioners Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga, who stepped down on Wednesday evening, aren’t likely to come down until March. Mayor London Breed’s office said Moliga’s resignation didn’t change any of the mayor’s plans. Breed said Wednesday she will conduct outreach and make her picks—which many are watching carefully—under the assumption that the vacancies will take effect next month.

Recall supporters, who were partially motivated to install a new board before seating a new superintendent, sought a longer timeline. Extending the timeline for the superintendent search isn’t the only complication during an already chaotic transition. The Board of Education has other significant votes to make in immediate weeks around the school district’s budget and layoffs. 

Vincent Matthews, the district’s current superintendent, announced his resignation in March 2021 but agreed to remain for one more year in the name of stability—if the board met certain conditions. In exchange for agreeing to stay, Matthews demanded “strict adherence” to board rules and insisted that the commissioners refrain from introducing any new resolutions unrelated to in-person learning, safety and the budget until schools fully reopened.

A recent community survey conducted by the consulting firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates indicated a lack of confidence in the district. Those polled gave SFUSD low marks on transparency, safety, addressing the social and emotional needs of students, fiscal responsibility and facility maintenance.

The new superintendent will inherit an enrollment and financial crisis, educator shortage, central office audit, the ongoing pandemic and more.