Less than a week after finalizing a superintendent profile for Austin ISD’s hired search firm to use in finding a full-time leader, trustees voted on March 30 to slow the search and extend the contract with the interim superintendent, Matias Segura.
Segura’s contract was originally set to expire on July 31 and is now extended through June 30, 2024.
"We need more than an educator—we need someone who will listen to the educators in our district," said David Kauffman, District 7 trustee. "We need someone who can recognize and build on what we need in our system and Segura can do that."
About a dozen AISD community and staff members signed up or called in to speak on the subject during the meeting—most in favor of extending Segura’s contract and slowing the search. However, a few expressed concerns with the plan.
Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, spoke in favor of extending the contract and slowing the search.
“I applaud you for your focus on the success of our district,” Zarifis said. “With staffing issues, special education concerns, and overworked and underpaid employees, we have enough to deal with right now.”
Zarifis said Segura has brought a sense of calm and stability to the district during his time as interim superintendent.
Helen Miller, who identified as an AISD parent and grandparent, spoke during public testimony. She said she is concerned Segura, who previously served as Operations Officer, does not have the tools to take care of the challenges the district is working through because he does not have an educator background. Some of these challenges, she said, include special education, teacher and staff shortages, and education for underserved communities.
After spending an hour behind closed doors, trustees resumed the open session to discuss the matter and voted unanimously to extend Segura's contract and slow the search.
Board President Arati Singh said there is not a definite timeline for when we trustees will go back to the drawing board to hire a superintendent; however, the contract with GR Recruiting will remain intact.
"I am pretty humbled and excited—there are a lot of emotions flowing through me at the moment," Segura said after the meeting. "It is really about the work and seeing all the great work around initiatives over the past 12 weeks. Our biggest concern was that these initiatives would still be very new, and I'm excited that I get to continue the work a little bit longer."