St. Paul schools chief wins Austin, Texas, vote

  • Article by: EMILY JOHNS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2009 - 11:09 PM

The Austin school board unanimously approved Meria Carstarphen as its next superintendent.

It's official: Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is leaving the St. Paul School District.

The Austin, Texas, school board voted unanimously on Monday night to name Carstarphen the district's next superintendent.

Carstarphen announced last month that she would be taking the job, but Texas law requires districts to wait at least 21 days after announcing finalists before making it official, to allow time for community input.

Austin Board of Trustees President Mark Williams called Carstarphen a "passionate, energetic, reform-minded visionary who understands the challenges of a diverse, urban school district."

Carstarphen, 39, is leaving as the St. Paul district faces a $25 million budget deficit for next year and begins a large restructuring process.

She plans to leave for Austin once her three-year contract with St. Paul expires in June. She will be replacing retiring Superintendent Pat Forgione, who has been with the Texas district for 10 years.

At a news conference after the board meeting, Carstarphen said she will work hard to get to know the Austin district and its challenges over the next few months.

Originally from Selma, Ala., Carstarphen has spent her years in St. Paul focusing on closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, beefing up the district's relationships with corporate and philanthropic partners and initiating major restructuring.

The St. Paul School District is the second-largest in the state, with 38,500 students and a declining enrollment.

The Austin district is a growing urban district of almost 83,500 students. It is the third-largest district in Texas.

Carstarphen is being paid $195,000 in St. Paul this year. If she were not to take another vacation day this year, she would receive a $31,715 payout at the end of her contract.

In Austin, she will receive a base salary of $275,000, with the possibility of a performance bonus of up to $25,000 a year.

Emily Johns • 612-673-7460

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