Balderas leaving 4J for new superintendent job

Balderas will begin working in Lynnwood, Washington on July 1.

Posted: Mar 4, 2020 10:05 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2020 6:21 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – Superintendent Gustavo Balderas of the Eugene 4J School District has been named the next superintendent of the Edmonds School District in Washington.

Balderas will begin working in Lynnwood, Washington on July 1, pending contract negotiations.


According to board chair Anne Marie Levis, it's likely that an interim superintendent will be selected until the board can complete a search for candidates. 

"It's really not the time to be hiring a superintendent right now. Most of them have gone through their hiring and putting themselves out. Really the best time is over winter break. So for us, what we need to do is get an interim for the next school year."

Some parents and staff have expressed concern that a superintendent search will detract focus from other important issues. According to Levis, it's still too early to know exactly how the process will work but she feels confident that the board and school administrators will be able to handle the work.

"I'm confident that we will come out of this with a great interim, a great long-term superintendent and continue to help the school district move forward," she said.


Edmonds School District Board President Deborah Kilgore told KEZI 9 News that Balderas was selected in part for his deep knowledge and success surrounding equity. Their nearly 20,000 students are 21% Latino, 13% Asian and 7% black. They hope he can apply his expertise to their diverse student body.

"We felt that Dr. Balderas really has the depth of knowledge and a real understanding of systems and systemic interventions that help us get to where we want to go," she said. "His work in equity and narrowing the achievement gap for students was absolutely important to our community."'

The board hopes to vote on a contract as early as next Tuesday.

Balderas was awarded 2020 National Superintendent of the Year by the School Superintendent's Association in February. Executive Director Daniel Domenech said it's clear why other school districts want his talent.

"The qualities of this individual is very much the qualities that Gustavo has. A leader who has got the community and board support to do the right thing and make hard decisions," he said. 

According to Domenech, selecting a superintendent is one of the most consequential decisions a school board can make, which is why many boards feel obligated to search far and wide for the most qualified candidates.

Balderas is Eugene 4J’s 23rd superintendent and took the reigns of the district in 2015. Balderas also serves on the Oregon State Board of Education.

Below is a letter from Balderas, written to 4J staff:

Dear colleagues,

I want to share some news. Tonight I was announced as the final superintendent candidate, pending a contract agreement, to lead the Edmonds School District outside Seattle.

While I'm not eager to leave the Eugene community or our terrific 4J team, with my youngest child now in college I am open to exploring other leadership opportunities in education. I was recruited to be considered for the Washington position, and after a lot of thought I decided the opportunity to take on new professional challenges and bring my experience and focus on educational equity to a larger, more urban, more diverse school district in the Seattle metro area deserved serious consideration.

Please know that I remain focused on and invested in our 4J students, staff and community, and I plan to complete the school year in Eugene.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the 5 years I have been in Eugene, with the leadership of our administration team and the outstanding work of our licensed educators and classified team every day. Together we have strengthened the foundations of our educational system, reinvested in systems, staffing and supports, and improved outcomes for students. I’m confident that the great momentum we've developed in the district will continue, and lead to ever-growing successes for our students and schools. Your efforts in that work, as always, will be vital to making the difference for kids.

Thank you for all that you do. It’s an honor to be your colleague.

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