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Long Beach Promotes Jill Baker to Top Post, Albuquerque Names Interim

  • Jill Baker, deputy superintendent of California’s Long Beach United School District, has been named superintendent in a unanimous vote of the school board. She will succeed Christopher Steinhauser, who will retire this summer after 18 years in the post.

    Baker, who will be the first woman to run the Long Beach schools, most recently led the district’s transition to home-based digital learning in response to the coronavirus shutdown of schools. Jill Baker, Superintendent of California’s Long Beach United School District.

    She started in Long Beach as a teacher nearly three decades ago, then held positions as principal and posts in the central office. As deputy, she oversees leadership development, curriculum and instruction, early learning and supervision and support of schools. 

    In an interview with the Long Beach Post, Baker was asked about upcoming challenges.

    She cited “some critical budget decisions and the issue of stability in a post-Covid environment” and also “how to bring school back” once the crisis ends.

    She expressed optimism. “School is going to be different in a positive way, and part of our good work will be to re-imagine how classroom life is different,” she said.

    In a statement thanking the board, Baker praised Steinhauser and promised a smooth transition in leadership. “We’re facing unprecedented challenges because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” she said, adding, “I look forward with all of my heart to the day we can gather again in our beloved schools and classrooms.”

    Steinhauser praised Baker, saying “her tireless efforts have positively impacted so many aspects of our organization. She has excellent interpersonal skills and is widely respected for her ability to motivate people to do their best work.”

    Board president Felton Williams credited Baker with being “a thoughtful, strategic planner who has served our schools extremely well.” He said she is a key reason “our school system is considered nationally, and even internationally, to be a high-functioning organization.” (Williams, named CGCS’s Green-Gardner educator of the year award in 2017, himself will retire this year after four terms on the board.) 

    According to the district, Baker has worked with organizations, including the California Conference for Equality and Justice and Californians for Justice on equity and inclusion issues. She also co-chaired an English Language Learner/Social-Emotional Education task force on closing achievement gaps.  She was a fellow in the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy. 

    New Leader Named in Albuquerque

    New Mexico’s Albuquerque Public Schools recently named Chief Operations Officer Scott Elder as acting superintendent when Superintendent Raquel Reedy retires at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. 

    Reedy announced in October that she planned to retire after serving at the helm for four years. The district was in the middle of a search for her replacement when the coronavirus public health crisis closed schools for the remainder of the school year. The search has been suspended until school returns as normal.

    Elder will work alongside Reedy during the next couple of months in an effort to make the transition as smooth as possible.

    Elder has worked for Albuquerque Public Schools since 1991 when he began his career teaching English as a Second Language at a high school. As chief operations officer for the past five years, he has focused on providing a safe and inclusive learning environment for all Albuquerque Public Schools students.

    “I am humbled by the board’s decision to name me acting superintendent,” Elder said after Monday’s school board meeting naming him the acting leader. “These are stressful times, and I will do my best to make sure students are at the center of every decision we make as we transition from distance learning back to the classroom.”