BY SRIANTHI PERERA
Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is one of two finalists being considered for a top education position in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s Board of Education confirmed that Kishimoto is in the running to become the next superintendent of the state’s public school system, which has 256 schools on six islands, more than
175,000 students and 22,000 permanent employees and an annual operating budget of about $1.9 billion.
As a comparison, GPS has a student enrollment of 36,500 and an annual budget of $305 million.
The position pays in the range of $240,000 and the new appointee would assume the position on July 1. Current Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi’s job ends June 30.
Kishimoto and the other finalist, Linda Chen, who served as chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland from 2014 to 2016 and now owns her own educational consulting services company, were whittled down from a pool of 92 candidates.
The two are to be flown to Hawaii for a meeting with the board on May 11, meet with stakeholders in the community, participate in public forums and informal meet-and-greets. The decision is expected to be made soon after.
Kishimoto did not respond to a request for comment.
“Since the process is still in motion, Dr. Kishimoto is not able to make a statement at this time,” Irene Mahoney- Paige, district spokeswoman stated in an email message.
The GPS Superintendent, who came to Gilbert from the Hartford Public School District in Connecticut, took office here in July 2014.
Of Puerto Rican descent, Kishimoto was raised in the south Bronx and has degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. She’s also bilingual.
Kishimoto took up the Gilbert position amid turbulence and controversies circulating the school board and the departure of many teachers. One of her first tasks was to fill in the administrative positions that were vacant.
In her letter to the superintendent search committee, Kishimoto states that the position “is very attractive to me because the district has established a vision to be a progressive leader in education, ready to embrace new models of engagement that are student-centered and teacher empowered.
She also states, “Over the past three years, I have been serving as the Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools leading a major strategic reform plan based on a significant redesign of the district governance structure, instructional technology integration approach, and district brand, while re-norming through a change process guided by a managed performance empowerment theory of action.”
One of the competencies of the job profile is an understanding of Hawaii’s culture and values and demonstrated ability to incorporate them into leadership decisions, actions and style.
However, neither candidate is from Hawaii.