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Search for new L.A. schools chief shifts focus to individual candidates

Search for new L.A. schools chief shifts focus to individual candidates
L.A. Board of Education President Steve Zimmer, right, says he and the rest of the board "have an intense and incredible job ahead of us" in replacing Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who hopes to retire by the end of the year. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

The search for the next leader of the Los Angeles Unified School District entered a new phase this week as an executive search firm officially closed a two-week public input period, putting more focus on individuals who might want the job.

It will be up to the seven-member Board of Education to decide who will replace current Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who said he would like to retire by the end of the year.

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"We have an intense and incredible job ahead of us in the coming weeks," said school board President Steve Zimmer at a meeting last week.

The hunt is being conducted confidentially in hopes that a better field will be available if candidates can apply without jeopardizing their current jobs. But that approach hasn't stopped those inside and outside the nation's second-largest school system from speculating or suggesting names.

The Times has compiled a list of potential applicants, including some who have not exhibited interest and would need to be recruited, such as Long Beach Unified Supt. Christopher Steinhauser.

The roster also includes other superintendents with experience in urban districts, such as Richard Carranza of San Francisco Unified and Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. L.A. Unified employees with a shot at the top job include Michelle King, the chief deputy superintendent. No one has publicly declared interest in the post.

Cortines, 83, returned from retirement after John Deasy resigned under pressure just over a year ago.

The next schools chief will face numerous challenges, including declining enrollment, ongoing budget pressures and a proposal, spearheaded by philanthropist Eli Broad, that would move half of L.A. Unified students to charter schools over the next eight years.

Twitter: @howardblume

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