Austin ISD superintendent search could take a year

AISD logo, Austin ISD (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Independent School District officials started diving into what it would take to hire a new superintendent on Monday night.

This comes after Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen was named the sole finalist for the same position within Atlanta Public Schools  last week. Formal approval from Atlanta’s school board is expected to be given next month.

Do not expect AISD to make a decision anytime soon.

“I would think that if we want to be thoughtful and careful that we would probably not hire another superintendent until probably this time next year,” said Vincent Torres, board president.

Torres said five of the nine trustees have never been part of a superintendent search. The board met behind closed doors Monday night to learn how the process works.

During the last superintendent search, AISD used an outside search firm to find qualified candidates. It is a tool Torres would like to use again, but first wants to ask the community to come up with the criteria for the perfect candidate.

“Basically make sure we’re in sync with our community, we’re hearing what they want in a superintendent,” said Torres.

In the meantime, the district will be looking for a senior leader within AISD to fill the role temporarily.

An interim superintendent will not be chosen until after Atlanta Public Schools officially hires Dr. Carstarphen, which is expected to happen on April 14.

Torres said the interim would help the district get by for the next six to nine months until finding a permanent superintendent.

“You really don’t want to operate with an interim superintendent too long. But for that period of time, you’re almost on a coasting gear that people know what they’re supposed to be doing for the next year,” said Torres.

Board members will be looking for someone with a business background since AISD is one of the city’s largest employers. There are 87,000 students and more than 12,000 employees.

“Strong financial background, strong academic background, ability to help us implement our facility master plan,” said Torres. “Those are just operational characteristics. But we’re also going to want to hear from the community as to what they want in the profile of a superintendent.”

School board members say one of the top priorities needs to be continuing to increase the graduation rate.

“Coming up with a formula, coming up with ideas,” said Torres. “[That] is certainly something they’re going to need to look at.”

More students graduated during Carstarphen’s tenure than the previous superintendent, but Torres says AISD can do even better.

When Carstarphen started in 2009, just more than 75 percent of AISD students graduated in four years. The number increased to 82 percent for the class of 2012.

The district is also facing major budget issues.

“Right now we’re sending away about $129 million a year,” Torres said. “That’s projected to go in four years to almost $270 million a year.”

Dr. Carstarphen did not speak to the media Monday night. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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