St. Paul School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is a finalist for the superintendent's job in the Austin, Texas, school district, a Texas newspaper is reporting.

According to the story, posted late Wednesday in the online edition of the Austin American-Statesman, two sources close to the selection process identified the 39-year-old Carstarphen as a finalist. Those sources did not want their names used, the paper said, because the process is ongoing.

Austin school board President Mark Williams told the American-Statesman that the district's trustees are still considering a small pool of candidates, but he would not say who is in it.

On Thursday, Carstarphen released a statement saying she is proud to be St. Paul's superintendent, and she's continuing to work to serve the district's students, families, staff and community members.

"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 that the Austin superintendent search is closed, and she is not in a position to comment on the job.

St. Paul spokesman Howie Padilla declined to confirm or deny whether Carstarphen was a finalist.

However, "I don't think it's any surprise her name would be coming up," he said. "She's well-known throughout the country, and this is about the time when districts are starting to name superintendents."

Carstarphen is in her third year with the St. Paul schools. Before coming to St. Paul, she was the chief accountability officer of the Washington, D.C., public schools. When she arrived in St. Paul, she was the highest-paid Twin Cities-area school leader ever.

Her contract expires this summer, and she has not yet signed a new one. Her house on St. Paul's Summit Avenue is for sale.

Carstarphen's salary for the 2008-09 school year is about $195,000.

Elona Street-Stewart, vice chair of the St. Paul School Board, said Thursday that the school board is aware that its superintendent is going to be approached by other districts.

"She was very attractive to us, and I can assure you that she'll be attractive to others," she said.

The St. Paul School District is the second largest in the state, with 38,500 students and declining enrollment. It is in the midst of making large-scale changes to the way it operates, and is restructuring two schools under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The Austin district is a growing urban district of more than 82,000 students, almost 60 percent of them Hispanic. It has more than 11,000 employees.

Its current superintendent, Pat Forgione, is in his 10th year with the district. He is retiring in June.

Street-Stewart said St. Paul contract negotiations with Carstarphen are ongoing, and that the school board would like to keep her.

"We've made it very clear that there is work that we have started together, and she's very much a part of that," she said. "We're expecting to keep on going with her." Emily Johns • 612-673-7460