Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso has announced his resignation.
Derek Valcourt has more on the announcement and what it means for Baltimore.
Alonso has led Baltimore City Schools for six years, making him one of the longest-serving school superintendents in Baltimore’s recent history.
There was applause and hugs for Alonso as he announced to a room full of city school leaders his planned resignation at the end of the school year.
The moment became emotional for Alonso as he talked about the recent death of a principal who influenced him early in his education career.
“It’s just strange how things come full circle. So I have enjoyed being the superintendent of this school system,” Alonso said.
It was a beleaguered school system when he inherited it in 2007. Alonso is credited with reversing huge budget deficits, improving what were some of the lowest test scores in the state and increasing graduation rates.
Alonso says he’s leaving Baltimore to take care of his ailing parents in New Jersey and will assume a professorship at Harvard University.
“I have no regrets and I feel that if I remained I would have personal regrets that I will never be able to live with, so it’s the right time,” he said.
Now the school system must search for the new leadership that will implement an unprecedented 10-year multi-million dollar plan to revamp school buildings.
“I’ve encouraged the chair of the school board to begin a national search immediately,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “For me it is very important that that CEO, the permanent CEO, gets in place as soon as possible, particularly with the critical work we are doing with the school system, building new schools, rehabbing new schools.”
For now, Tisha Edwards, Alonso’s chief of staff since 2009, will serve as interim superintendent.
“We will not look back. We will only charge forward, and we will all continue to do what is right for children,” Edwards said.
Alonso is just two years into a four-year contract he negotiated with the city.
But as he prepares to leave he says he will continue to cheer Baltimore’s future progress.
“I have loved this job and the people here deeply,” Alonso said in a statement to WJZ’s media partner, The Baltimore Sun. “It’s been incredibly rewarding. So often people would approach me and tell me about how hard it must be and I had to say, ‘It’s been the best job there is.’ …
“On the surface it was hard. But every time I went into a school or walked outside what I got was enormous validation and really a surprising kind of love. I held out as long as I could. What I know is that if not now it would have had to happen sometime soon and this seems the best way to avoid a disruption.”
The mayor says she hopes to have his permanent replacement starting on the job by the start of the next school year.
Rawlings-Blake released this statement about Alonso:
“Under the leadership of Dr. Alonso, Baltimore has made significant progress improving student achievement, including rising test scores and graduation rates—all while overall school enrollment has increased, reversing decades of steady decline. We are all very grateful for Dr. Alonso’s service to the children of Baltimore’s public schools and wish him well as he pursues future endeavors and spends time with family…
“With the support of Dr. Alonso and countless partners, this administration has already succeeded in delivering more than $1 billion in new funding for school construction and renovation, supported by a doubling of annual city funding. I am confident that there are several qualified candidates across the country that would jump at the chance to be part of an historic school reconstruction effort. The next school CEO has a unique opportunity to build upon the progress made and make Baltimore home to the best system of urban public schools in America.
“Again, it has been a great pleasure to work closely with Dr. Alonso over the last several years. Today is a time to reflect on the progress made over the last half decade and thank Dr. Alonso for his contributions to Baltimore’s public school children.”
His resignation takes effect June 30.