Luis Valentino appears to have been the popular choice among both teachers and business leaders to be Albuquerque Public Schools’ next superintendent.
Leaders from the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, the Greater Albuquerque Area Chamber of Commerce and the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce on Monday said they were pleased with the APS school board’s superintendent pick.
An El Paso native, Valentino comes from the San Francisco Unified School District, where he’s been the chief academic officer since 2012. He also worked for more than two decades in the Los Angeles’ public schools system.
“The vast majority of the teachers were most positive about Dr. Valentino,” said ATF President Ellen Bernstein, who polled teachers after a series of forums last week in which three finalists answered questions from the public.
The other finalists were Almudena Abeyta, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning for Santa Fe Public Schools, and Michael Cardona, chief school officer for Houston Independent Schools.
Bernstein said teachers felt Valentino showed respect for them and that he has a “deep knowledge base about education.”
Valentino appears to have a “student-centered” approach, said Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re impressed with what we’ve seen and heard so far,” Cole said, noting the organization still wants to meet with him in person in May.
Likewise, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce supports the board’s selection of Valentino and also plans to meet with him, said executive director Alex Romero.
“I felt pretty comfortable with what I heard from (Valentino). There were no red flags,” said Kim Kerschen, president of the New Mexico PTA.
The biggest question for Kerschen’s organization is whether Valentino will be willing to meet to discuss concerns as they arise, she said.
Valentino’s direct supervisor in San Francisco spoke highly of him Monday.
As San Francisco Unified School District’s chief academic officer, Valentino led its adoption of the Common Core, expansion of classroom technology and STEM curriculum and bilingual education, said Guadalupe Guerrero, the district’s deputy superintendent. He also rebuilt an academic division hurt by budget cuts.
“He inherited a skeleton of a division and built it up methodically and very strategically,” Guerrero said.
New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said she will work with Valentino.
“I, along with my team, am committed to the new Superintendent’s success and am excited about the possibilities to work together to continue to improve the educational opportunities for Albuquerque’s students,” she said in a statement.
The APS school board and Valentino still must finalize his contract. Board president Don Duran said Saturday he expects that to happen this week. Valentino is expected to start in his new role in July.