With a month to go before it must adopt a budget and begin to prepare for a new school year, the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board is facing a new challenge – finding a new superintendent.
Hawaii’s Board of Education announced Friday it had signed a three-year contract with Gilbert Superintendent Christina Kishimoto for that state’s top school’s post.
As Hawaii’s next superintendent, Kishimoto will oversee 256 schools on six islands, more than 175,000 students, 22,000 permanent employees and an annual operating budget of about $1.9 billion.
By comparison, Gilbert has a student enrollment of 36,500 and an annual budget of $305 million.
The position pays in the range of $240,000 and Kishimoto would start Aug. 1 – a month into the new fiscal year for Gilbert Public Schools and only days before the start of the new school year.
Since the Gilbert board has not even begun a search, it is likely that it will pick an interim candidate from the district’s current crop of administrators.
Hawaii had winnowed a field of 92 applicants down to Kishimoto and Linda Chen, who served as the chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland from 2014 to 2016 and now owns an educational consulting services company.
Kishimoto could not be reached for comment. Gilbert board members, who have declined in the past to comment on her application for the Hawaii post, could not be reached immediately for comment.
Kishimoto came to Gilbert from the Hartford Public School District in Connecticut in July 2014. Of Puerto Rican descent, she was raised in the south Bronx area of New York City and has degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. She’s also bilingual.
She took up the Gilbert position amid turbulence and controversies circulating the school board and the departure of many teachers. One of her first tasks was to fill in the administrative positions that were vacant.
In her letter to the Hawaii board, Kishimoto stated that the position “is very attractive to me because the district has established a vision to be a progressive leader in education, ready to embrace new models of engagement that are student-centered and teacher empowered.”
“Over the past three years, I have been serving as the Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools leading a major strategic reform plan based on a significant redesign of the district governance structure, instructional technology integration approach, and district brand, while re-norming through a change process guided by a managed performance empowerment theory of action,” she wrote.
One of the competencies of the job profile is an understanding of Hawaii’s culture and values and demonstrated ability to incorporate them into leadership decisions, actions and style.
However, neither finalist was from Hawaii.
Hawaii Board of Education Chairman Lance Mizumoto said Kishimoto “has the right combination of experience, knowledge, and focus to implement the strategic vision for educational change set forth” by state officials and education leaders.
“It is with great excitement and honor that I accept this critical education leadership position,” Hawaiian news media quoted Kishimoto as saying.
News media in Hawaii also quoted her as saying, “I look forward to implementing a vision of excellence for all students. I look forward to working hand in hand with Hawaii’s teachers, leaders, staff, parents, community members, and student leaders to execute on this vision of high quality college, career, and community readiness.”
Hawaii Gov. David Ige released this statement:
“While Dr. Kishimoto will lead the effort to remodel our school system, she will need the support of the entire community. Her success will be our success. Together, we can ensure that those closest to our students are empowered to make decisions that provide the basics and add the new skills our children need to prosper in the future.”