St. Paul superintendent a finalist for Austin, Texas jobby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — St. Paul schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen is a finalist for the Austin, Texas, superintendent position, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.
The news comes almost three years from the day Carstarphen was selected as St. Paul's school chief in March 2006.
Before arriving in St. Paul, Carstarphen was the chief accountability officer for the public schools of Washington D.C. She oversaw assessment, professional development and student services for that district.
Her career also includes a stint as a photographer for National Geographic magazine, and various administrative positions in Ohio and Tennessee.
The St. Paul district has more than 38,000 students, but enrollment has been on the decline and the district is in the process of overhauling two schools because they failed to meet No Child Left Behind standards.
Carstarphen is spending the weekend at a conference in San Francisco, according to district spokesman Howie Padilla. But she released a statement Thursday afternoon, declining to comment on the superintendent search in Austin.
She added that she is still committed to serving the students and staff of the St. Paul Public Schools.
"It is well known that I very much enjoy my job here, and remain deeply committed to achieving the vision that we have set forth over the past three years," she said.
One part of that vision is the ongoing Large-Scale System Change, which includes the district studying every aspect of operations to find efficiencies and a better structure for the future.
Carstarphen often mentions that the district's current infrastructure is built for 45,000 students, but has fewer than 40,000 -- a comment usually interpreted as a sign that some school closures will be part of the System Change when it's announced.
St. Paul School Board member Elona Street-Stewart says the Austin report won't sidetrack the board's work on the system change, though she adds she's not surprised to Carstarphen's name being floated elsewhere.
"There's a handful of urban school superintendents that have really risen in prominence in moving reform forward," noted Street-Stewart.
Carstarphen's three-year contract expires on June 30, and has not yet been renewed, though Street-Stewart says she expects the board to present Carstarphen with a new contract in coming weeks.
The Austin district has an enrollment of about 82,000 students. Its current superintendent, Pascal Forgione, is in his 10th year at the helm, and is retiring effective June 30. A district spokesman says the board's goal is to have to the position filled by that time.
The Austin Board of Trustees canceled a meeting that was scheduled for tonight, but will meet next Wednesday, Feb. 25. Spokesman Andy Welch says a decision could be announced at that time, if the board has settled on one or more finalists.
Forgione will earn $284,563 this year in Austin. Carstarphen's current salary in St. Paul is about $195,000.