L.A. school board approves contract for new LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho

Alberto Carvalho, the new Los Angeles schools superintendent, promised on Tuesday to bring energy, passion and compassion to his new role as head of the nation’s second-largest school system, shortly after the school board Tuesday morning approved his four-year contract with an annual $440,000 salary.

Carvalho, 57, accepted his new job after 13 years leading Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth-largest K-12 district. The board made its decision last week, while Carvalho was in Miami. Carvalho immediately said his farewells on the East Coast, but Tuesday marked his first public appearance in Los Angeles as the new schools chief.

“Honestly, I’m excited about this opportunity,” Carvalho said after the board’s 7-0 vote. “And my excitement is a reflection not only of the opportunity of Los Angeles offers to all of us, but also reciprocally and with equal weight, the responsibility we have to emerge from this crisis stronger than we entered it, around eliminating the gaps that currently exist, stabilizing conditions that are so prevalent throughout the country, and really in a very forceful respectful, compassionate way recognize the needs of our students, their parents, the families and certainly our workforce.”

Carvalho also delivered his remarks again in Spanish.

He will take the helm in March — or sooner if he is able to do so.

Carvalho is among the nation’s most experienced and admired school district leaders and brings to L.A. a reputation for stability and improved student achievement at a pivotal moment for L.A. Unified, which is undertaking a monumental pandemic recovery effort for its 450,000 students.

He’ll join a school system in which many students have long struggled to achieve and were further set back — academically and emotionally — by the COVID-19 pandemic. The district also is facing sharply declining enrollment and a long-term structural deficit. The financial risk has receded, for now, because of billions of dollars in coronavirus relief aid and state tax surpluses that Carvalho must spend quickly and wisely.

In Miami, Carvalho’s accomplishments included enhancing science and technology opportunities at schools and increasing the number of Advanced Placement and honors classes for minority students from low-income families. More broadly speaking, Carvalho seized on the importance of offering choices in schooling that embodied variety, quality and academic rigor, his supporters said.

Last week, Miami-Dade school board member Lucia Baez-Geller praised Carvalho as data-driven, skilled at integrating technology and someone “willing to take steps that might not be popular but are necessary.”

On Florida’s accountability system, the Miami-Dade district’s rating has risen to an A, although some schools continue to struggle with persisting low achievement.

Since Roy Romer’s departure in 2006, L.A. Unified has had eight school chiefs, including interim office holders. Former Supt. Austin Beutner stepped down in June at the end of his three-year contract, in part citing exhaustion after managing through a teachers’ strike and a pandemic. Beutner’s top deputy, Megan Reilly, has served as interim leader since that time and was a finalist for the job.

Reilly presided over the open session of the 9 a.m. meeting, during which Kelly Gonez was reelected to a second consecutive, one-year term as president of the seven-member Board of Education.

The new position will represent a full reboot for Carvalho, who has spent his entire education career affiliated with the Miami district — rising from teacher to the top job.

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