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Multnomah super search down to two

Breyer and Bautista vie for top spot

The Multnomah Education Service District board is moving forward to the final round with the two local candidates for superintendent.

Passing over an executive director of a similar government agency in New Mexico, the MESD board selected Centennial School District Superintendent Sam Breyer and Oregon Department of Education Assistant Superintendent David Bautista as its finalists, announced Wednesday. COURTESY: MESD - Sam Breyer

Breyer heads one of the umbrella agency’s eight constituent districts. He said that though he supported the effort, he was not in attendence at a meeting last February of the county’s superintendents with members of the MESD board. After that meeting, the board put its Superintendent Barbara Jorgensen on notice that she was no longer allowed in the building. Jorgensen was shortly thereafter put on administrative leave until a separation agreement was reached last June.

See previous coverage: portlandtribune.com/go/42-news/254419-124467-multnomah-superintendent-ousted-banned-from-building

Breyer said he has witnessed firsthand the potential of the MESD, but has had questions and criticisms. He said it did not occur to him until the second round of the superintendent search — the first one failed and rumors swirled around then-candidate and Parkrose School District superintendent Karen Fischer Gray's role in Jorgensen's ouster — to apply.

Breyer said he feels the district's biggest challenge is to restore its relationship with its eight constituent districts.

Centennial School District is in the middle of a major bond campaign. Breyer vowed to fully devote his attention to the May vote, despite the potential job offer.

"All my energy and commitment is to that process," he said, noting that he would stay on until the end of the fiscal year.

Statewide equity expert

Bautista, reached while attending an English language learner conference in Eugene, said he thinks each of the 19 education service districts should be regional leaders in policy and practice.COURTESY: MESD - David Bautista

The former Woodburn School District superintendent stressed the importance of equity in the school system. Bautista was charged with leading the state department’s new equity unit for the last three years and now, he said, “I think I’m ready to go back to the field.”

Bautista did not comment on specific ways he would improve things at MESD and help steer them away from the controversies that have plagued the district in recent years. But he did say that he sees the way forward as a collaborative and partnership-based effort.

“It’s not one person, not one leader. It’s all together,” Bautista said. “That ‘all together’ starts from the leadership.”

The finalists will be interviewed publicly March 14 and a decision is expected the next day. Anyone is invited to submit comment to the Superintendent Search Committee via board Vice-Chair Stephen Marc Beaudoin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday, March 11. The full board plans to make a decision before spring break.

“Here we have two very fine educational leaders, both of whom bring vision, experience, and a real understanding of educational equity,” Beaudoin said in a statement. “This position is an incredible opportunity to lead Multnomah ESD into a new era of opportunity and possibility.”

Shasta Kearns Moore
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