AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dr. Paul Cruz has been named the sole candidate for the Austin Independent School District superintendent position after two other candidates for the job withdrew their names from consideration. Cruz had been serving as the interim superintendent since April after Dr. Meria Carstarphen left to lead Atlanta Public Schools.
Board members had announced a plan Monday that would have allowed the public to meet the three people at a meeting this weekend at Lanier High School. The other two names were to be released to the public on Friday, and the district president had planned to announce their sole finalist on Dec. 15.
A search firm helped the district advertise the position and recruit candidates based on a superintendent profile created from community input. The district said 98 people applied for the position. After narrowing down the field of applicants, the board interviewed a select number of candidates.
Cruz, 48, was part of Carstarphen’s senior cabinet and served as the Chief Schools Officer for AISD while providing academic guidance and support for all campuses. It is a position he’s held for the last five years.
Cruz was hired by the district in 2006. Prior to that, he has been an assistant superintendent in Round Rock, San Benito and Kansas City. He was the superintendent of Laredo ISD from 1998 to 2002, and also worked as a deputy commissioner at the Texas Education Agency.
When he was named interim superintendent the board initially decided he would not be in the running for the position permanently. Joey Lozano is a longtime friend and former colleague of Paul Cruz’s at the Texas Education Agency. He said he had a feeling that would change.
“When the board first announced that he was not going to be a candidate for the permanent superintendent’s job, I immediately thought, ‘Oh they’re going to change their mind after a couple of months of seeing how well he performs in the interim superintendent’s position,'” said Lozano.
District officials said Wednesday that there has been resounding community support for Dr. Cruz and that was a consideration in adding him to the candidate list.
Lozano says while working with Dr. Cruz, he proved to be a skilled leader.
“He sees the big picture. He’s very visionary. He’s got a global vision, but he also understands the importance of all the little pieces that go into making the big picture,” said Lozano.
The school board meets again Monday, December 15. They’ll decide then whether to name Cruz as the sole finalist. If the board does vote to name Cruz as the finalist, there’s a three week period before the board votes on a contract.
The public forum is still planned at Lanier High School Saturday morning from 10:00 until noon. Dr. Cruz will be available to take questions.