Fortune Is Finalist for Seattle Post

Times Staff Writer

School District Supt. Rex Fortune on Monday was named one of six finalists for the position of superintendent for the Seattle School District.

A five-member search committee in February invited Fortune to apply for the post after conducting a lengthy nationwide review of school superintendents and administrators. Search committee members said Fortune's experience in dealing with Inglewood's swell in enrollment, its low test scores and the district's growing Latino population make him an attractive candidate to replace Supt. Robert L. Nelson, who is retiring in June.

The Seattle school district is nearly three times the size of Inglewood's with 43,647 students enrolled in 10 secondary schools and 66 elementary schools. Minority enrollment in the Seattle district is 50.7% compared to 93% in Inglewood schools.

Despite differences in size and ethnic composition, the two districts have in common a growing need for bilingual programs and low achievement records among minority students.

"The Seattle district is looking for good leadership abilities in someone who has experience in a similar district," said Marsha Leslie, a Seattle School District spokeswoman.

Fortune, 44, said he was "flattered" by the nomination, but added that he was in "no rush to leave Inglewood."

"There is much on the agenda here that I have started and would like to see finished," said Fortune, referring to programs designed to reduce class sizes and improve academic performance.

But he did not rule out a change. "If there is a greater opportunity elsewhere, I would have to weigh that against finishing what I have started here."

For 11 years prior to joining the Inglewood district in July 1983, Fortune served as the associate superintendent of public instruction with the California State Department of Education.

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