Leadership Transition ( 2002 – 2004)
The Long Beach Unified School District (LSUSB) in 2004 had an enrollment of 97,560 students in 95 different schools. The student population was 49% Hispanic/Latino, 18.6% African American, 16.9% White (Non-Hispanic), 9.7% Asian, and 5.8% other ethnic groups. Once a thriving port city, by the year 2003, LSUSB began declining in kindergarten enrollment while transfers into the area high schools were climbing steadily. At the time, 65% of the students enrolled received a free or reduced priced lunch, 33% were English language learners, and 8% were identified for special education services.
Chris Steinhauser was selected as superintendent in 2002 succeeding a previous superintendent that was highly regarded in the district and business leaders as a visionary in education. Steinhauser who had previously served as a teacher, principal, district supervisor, and finally deputy superintendent accepted the job with a wealth of experience. One goal for the district was his emphasis that teachers and school staff come to work to ‘serve’ the clients - the students and their parents” (p 476).
Steinhauser made very few changes as he began his duties as the leader of the LSUSB. He wanted to maintain the momentum of improvement in the elementary and middle schools. However, he wanted the focus of his efforts to be on high school reform. He sought to have every school learn to use data to measure progress and make decisions regarding instruction. One goal was that every high school offer a unique program and end social promotion by mandating that all ninth graders show literacy in the acquis...
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...r faced in succeeding Cohn. First, there was the 57 million dollar state budget shortfall from 2002-2004. He was able to maintain the structure of the school district by promoting from within the organization since there were several central office retirements without laying off any personnel. Steinhauser implemented a district wide system for school improvement. There was new leadership at the Board of Education (BOE) level with members with less than four years of experience. Even the president and executive director of the Teacher’s Union of Long Beach were brand new. Steinhauser worked hard to establish working relationships with key stakeholders (politicians, business owners). Building new relationships with the BOE, the Union and key stakeholders is a challenge because it requires a large degree of trust for all parties involved and changes the culture.
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