Fresno Unified’s superintendent Michael Hanson is leaning. He plans to step down from his position atop the school district next summer. School district leaders now reflect on the last decade and what this means for Fresno schools going forward. Hanson is one of the state’s highest paid educators. He just received a vote of confidence from the Fresno Unified School Board, but has faced his share of controversy and criticism.
“I will work with the board of education in this transition process as they work to find a candidate to replace me,” Hanson said in a video posted on Fresno Unified’s social media pages.
For the last 12 years Hanson sat in the big seat at the Fresno Unified School District offices. During that time the district’s financial stability has improved, but as Hanson departs challenges remain, including the task of finding the right person to take over the position.
“I can’t say that I’m surprised that he’s decided to move on,” said Fresno Unified School District Board Trustee Carol Mills. “He’s been the superintendent at this district longer than the average superintendent at a large urban (school district).”
Since taking over in 2005, progress was made.
“It is better than it was ten years ago,” said Mills.
“From the time he came in we were on the verge of bankruptcy. The state was going to take the district over and that was a very 180 turn around, so whoever comes in will have the benefit of a balanced budget,” said FUSD Board President Luis Chavez.
Mills says Hanson’s replacement will deal with plenty of issues.
“The graduation rates have gone up, but there are still what we call achievement gaps between groups, there are issues with student safety and student conduct in our classrooms,” said Mills.
Chavez says replacing Hanson is a tall task and it requires immediate action.
“This is a huge position administratively. We are the largest employer in the Central Valley, the fourth largest school district in the state close to a billion dollar operational budget yearly,” said Chavez. “It’s important to note we will be doing a national search for the superintendent and that will be initiated here in the next couple of days.”
“I’m hoping for a very transparent process and I’m hoping that we take our time so that we hire the right person person for Fresno Unified,” said Mills.
In addition to the video posted on FUSD social media, Hanson sent this statement, “This decision did not come easy, but I am confident that we have created a solid foundation for the next leader of this amazing district.”
Hanson will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning at 10. Stick with yourcentralvalley.com for all the latest.