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 Randy Ward Named County Superintendent; Dynamic Leader a “Kindergarten Teacher at Heart”

Randy Ward

Randy Ward, the state-appointed administrator who reformed instruction and finance and improved student achievement in both the Oakland and Compton Unified School Districts, has been appointed as the new San Diego County Superintendent of Schools.

"We're very pleased to announce that Randy Ward will be our next San Diego County Superintendent of Schools," said Sue Hartley, President of the San Diego County Board of Education. "Dr. Ward's track record of raising student test scores, responsible budgeting, and outstanding community support is exactly what our board was seeking."

The County Board of Education voted 5-0 in closed session today to appoint Ward, 49, who has served as the state-appointed administrator for Oakland Unified School District since June, 2003. He will start in the new position on August 14, 2006.

While his most recent jobs have been helping rescue troubled urban school districts, Ward, who is bilingual, has also taught in Venezuela and Colombia. He began his education career as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, first in his hometown of Boston, then in nearby Cambridge.

"I'm really a kindergarten teacher at heart," he told a handful of his new County Office of Education staff members recently.

"I'm very excited to be here," Ward said. My family is very excited to be here. I appreciate the opportunity that the board is giving me."

Ward then looked at his 1-year old son James Randolph and asked "What do you think James? Do you think this is a good idea? James gives it a high-five."

In Oakland, Ward was appointed by State Superintendent Jack O'Connell to help the school district eliminate a $60 million budget shortfall. Under his leadership the district accomplished that, while simultaneously showing greater improvement on the state's Academic Performance Index than any school system in California. Earlier this month the district also passed a $435 million school facilities bond measure with more than 77 percent of the vote.

Prior to his three years in Oakland, Ward served as the state-appointed administrator in the Compton Unified School District for more than six years (1996-2003). State Superintendent Delaine Eastin appointed him to the Compton position.

At the time Ward took the Compton appointment, the school district was $20 million in debt and its standardized test scores were among the lowest of the state's 1,000 school districts.

Under Ward's leadership, the school district re-paid its bankruptcy loan to the state in 2001. Test scores in Compton Unified improved five consecutive years during Ward's tenure there, while the high school dropout rate decreased, college admissions increased and Advance Placement course offerings at the district's high schools expanded.

He served as an Area Superintendent and elementary school principal in Long Beach Unified School District prior to his Compton appointment. In Long Beach, his supervisor was Carl Cohn, now Superintendent in San Diego City Schools.

"Dr. Randy Ward is a brilliant choice as the new San Diego County superintendent," said Carl Cohn, Superintendent of San Diego City Schools. "It's clear that the County Board is looking to the future and not willing to rest on the many successes of the past twelve years. I have known Randy for the past 18 years, going back to his days as a first year principal, who successfully turned around Whittier Elementary School in Long Beach.

"When it comes to student performance," Cohn continued, "there's no one better at getting results and focusing the organization on the primary mission--educating all students."

Before moving to Long Beach Unified for his first administrative position, Ward worked in Medellin, Colombia (1983-84, teaching high school and adult students); Caracas, Venezuela (1986-87, teaching 5th graders), and both Cambridge (1979-82, 1984-86, 1987-88; and Boston, (1978-79).

He earned his B.S. from Tufts University in 1978, majoring in Early Childhood Education and Mental Health. In 1983 he earned an M.Ed. from Harvard University in School Leadership. He earned a second M.Ed. from University of Massachusetts in Educational Administration in 1989. And he earned his Ed.D. from USC in 1992 in Policy, Planning and Administration.

He is married and has two young children.