Likely replacement for Carlos Garcia not about to rock the boat

s.f. examiner file photo
SF Examiner file photo
Richard Carranza says if he is officially selected 
to replace outgoing schools chief Carlos Garcia 
there will be a smooth transition free of disruption.
The man who will most likely be the next San Francisco Unified School District superintendent has promised a smooth transition with no surprises if he takes the helm this summer.

“If anyone’s expecting a radically different direction, that’s not going to be the case,” Richard Carranza, currently the district’s deputy superintendent, said in an interview with The S.F. Examiner.

The school board is expected this month to hire Carranza, 45, to replace retiring Superintendent Carlos Garcia, who was with the district for five years. Board members decided to forgo searching for a new leader outside the district in order to save money and avoid a disruptive transition.

“People pretty much know what they’re going to get with me,” said Carranza, who has worked closely with Garcia as his second-in-command since 2009.

Carranza said he would begin his tenure with a public listening tour.

“How are we spending resources?” Carranza said. “Things that are working, we want to make sure we’re supporting within this very limited budget environment. But things that aren’t working ... we want to stop doing.”

Among Carranza’s priorities is improving special education programs. SFUSD has been criticized in recent years for not fully including students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms, as well as for the disproportionate numbers of black and Hispanic children who are in special education classes.

“I think there just hasn’t been the attention paid to it that we should have paid to it,” Carranza said.

Carranza said he also expects to grapple with continued state funding shortfalls, which have reduced the district’s budget by $113 million in the past two years.

“We are in the ICU ward,” he said. “We’re keeping things moving and we’re keeping kids learning only because of the heroic actions in classrooms of people doing more with less every single day.”

Carranza, who was on the front line of education as a teacher for nearly a decade, stressed that the financial picture will only improve through “fundamental change in Sacramento,” but he hoped that the district would not have to ask for further concessions from teachers.

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