The Edmonds School District Board of Directors Tuesday voted to extend an offer to the Eugene School District’s Dr. Gustavo Balderas to become the district’s next superintendent. Pending completion of contract negations, Dr. Balderas will start with the district on July 1, 2020.
He will replace current superintendent Dr. Kris McDuffy, who is retiring at the end of this school year.
“We appreciate the community’s commitment to this hiring process by spending time and effort to provide input every step of the way,” said School Board President Dr. Deborah Kilgore. “As a result, we feel confident Dr. Balderas will make an immediate positive impact on our community.”
Balderas was one of two superintendent finalists who appeared at a public forum at Meadowdale High School Monday night. The other was Dr. Deborah Rumbaugh, an administrator with Burien’s Highline School District. According to a district announcement, the school board took written feedback from those attending the meeting into account in making its decision.
During Monday night’s meeting, Balderas noted that he was born in Mount Vernon, Wash., the son of migrant workers from Northern Mexico who were in the area picking strawberries. His family then settled in Eastern Oregon, and he attended Oregon public schools.
“I was an English language learner as a youth,” he said.
Balderas is in his ninth year as a school superintendent, having worked at two California school districts — Madera Unified School District in Madera, and Ocean View School District in Huntington Beach, before returning to Oregon in 2015 to become superintendent of Eugene School District 4J.
He got his professional start in the Hillsboro (Oregon) School District, where he served as a high school teacher and counselor, an elementary and middle school administrator, an executive director and an assistant superintendent. He served as the superintendent of two California school districts, Madera Unified School District in Madera, California, and Ocean View School District in Huntington Beach, California, before returning to Oregon to assume the superintendency of Eugene School District 4J.
“The one thing that I’m really proud of is the work that we’ve done in Eugene the last few years,” Balderas said. “We been able to close the opportunity gap. Our graduation rates have increased by 14 percentage points because of the systems we’ve put in.”
In addition, Balderas said that during his tenure the school district has been able to close the opportunity gaps for Eugene children. Graduation rates have increased 19% both for children in poverty and Latino students, and by 23% for students in special programs.
Balderas was named both Oregon and U.S. Superintendent of the Year, an honor he credited to his 2,700 staff members “who work hard every day for our 17,000 kids.”