Superintendent Interviews For Post in San Francisco





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Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Jack McLaughlin is one busy man.

Not only did he travel to Sacramento yesterday to support teachers in their call for more education funding from the state, but he is also gearing up for the final round of a selection process for the top post of San Francisco's public schools.

McLaughlin, who has led Berkeley's schools for almost six years, said he is taking part in interviews with the school board across the Bay.

"I've always had a desire to go to San Francisco since I was assistant superintendent in South San Francisco from 1972 to '74," he said. "I had a goal to be in a large urban school district."

Earlier this year, McLaughlin considered applying for the superintendent post for Oakland's public schools but withdrew his name and threw his support behind another candidate. Less than a month later, he announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Salem, Ore. school district.

"Salem didn't have the urban features that I feel I can serve the best," McLaughlin said after declining the position. "If San Francisco offered me the job I would accept it."

Many of the nation's largest school districts are also looking for new superintendents. A pressing concern for these districts, including San Francisco, is funding, McLaughlin said.

"A major challenge is money," he said. "All districts are having major budget problems. That doesn't scare me at all. That's one of the reasons I would (apply for the position) - to help them."

McLaughlin said the state is limiting school districts' abilities to govern themselves, and that a superintendent can help solve this problem by pressuring the government.

McLaughlin, in fact, went to Sacramento yesterday to attend a statewide rally organized by the California Teachers Association in support of more education funding.

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean and several City Council members also attended the rally.

"We're pressuring both the governor and the legislature to dramatically increase the funding for education," said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. "There's very little state money that doesn't have earmarks. It's contributing to a shortage of general funds for things like books and the nuts and bolts of education."

Worthington said he went to the governor's office with Berkeley school board members to present petitions supporting their cause.

A Berkeley group called Advocates for Public Schools organized the city's residents to caravan up to the state capital in eight buses and more than 50 cars.

"I'm concerned with the achievement gap," said Marissa Saunders, a founder of the group. "The money (from the state) is not benefiting children of color."

Saunders said Berkeley's district needs more funding from the state so that it can give teachers better salaries.

"We can't get teachers of color to come when there's no pay," she said. "I want my child to be able to look up and see someone who represents who she is."

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