The man selected to be the next superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District is ready to make the move to Tucson.
The TUSD Governing Board voted four-to-one Tuesday to offer Dr. H. T. Sanchez the position.
Wednesday, KOLD News 13 spoke with Dr. Sanchez about several issues facing the district, about his relative inexperience as a superintendent and about how he will interact with district employees and the community.
Sanchez is coming to Tucson to head the largest school district in southern Arizona.
It's double the size of the one he is leaving.
We spoke by phone because he's still in Texas where he's the interim superintendent of an Odessa school district.
Sanchez has never been a sitting superintendent.
He says the pluses outweigh any minuses.
"I'm very wide open to trying things new," he says.
However, Sanchez says he would be foolish to come to Tucson and immediately change everything without first learning all he can and hearing from others.
He says consistency is important.
He also says it has to be good consistency.
"Consistency is good as long as the art of teaching is honored. You have the perspective of the end users who are the people who use it in the classroom," he says.
What Sanchez emphasized throughout the interview, and what seems to be the theme of his thinking is collaboration. Listening. Meeting with everyone from the school board to administrators to teachers to the community in order to decide TUSD's future.
"There are tried and true solutions, but it's not in isolation. It's with people. It's through conversation and it's through collaboration," Sanchez says.
TUSD is dealing with tight budgets, failing schools, dwindling enrollment, a decades-old federal desegregation plan, and the creation of new multi-cultural courses that the state education department will approve.
"You have to make decisions with all the information and all the key players at the table. And you have to keep your options on the table that make the most sense. But the integrity of the classroom is the most important piece," Sanchez says.
"You take advantage of your teacher leaders who have experience, who have found success, regardless if they have one year experience or 30 years."
"The people who know what they need are in the classrooms and on the campuses, are the principals and the teachers and the people at the central leadership building. It's a matter of asking, what are our biggest impediments? Great. Let's slide them out and then now let's spend our energy on how we resolve those things. There are solutions out there. Once you know what your issues are, you can identify the solutions that match best up to that," Sanchez says.
Take a look at Sanchez's career and he has changed jobs. A lot.
TUSD has been a revolving door for superintendents who stay only a few years.
Sanchez says consistency is important, and he's here to stay.
"I've stated multiple times: A five-year plan. The first year is listening and devising the plan. The next five years is working through the plan. And so I'm committed to seeing that through," Sanchez says.
He adds that he would like his two young children to grow up in Tucson, all the way through high school.
TUSD has been closing schools to deal with budget cuts.
More closures are expected.
Sanchez says everything must be on the table once the goals are identified.
"How do we expand service and cut costs. You never want to cut service and hope that cuts costs," he says.
Sanchez and TUSD are working on salary and other contract negotiations.
He hopes to be in his office at TUSD headquarters early next month.
He says, "Everybody wants to be part of a winning organization, and I believe that's what we can become and that momentum will carry us forward."
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