Search for Schools Superintendent Continues

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education will reconvene today as it works to select a new superintendent to lead the nation's second-largest school district.

The board met for hours Tuesday but announced shortly after 10 p.m. that it would be reconvening at noon Friday to resume the discussion.

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that the search appeared to have been narrowed to four candidates, including Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. Also on the list were investment banker and one- time Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner and former Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso.

The fourth finalist, Indianapolis schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday.

``Recently, I was announced as one of the finalists for the Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent position,'' Ferebee said in a statement reported by The Indianapolis Star. ``After further discussing this endeavor with my family, the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners and those handling the search process, I have withdrawn my name from consideration. It was an honor to have been considered for an opportunity of this magnitude.''

According to The Times, the 58-year-old Beutner, also a former Los Angeles deputy mayor under Antonio Villaraigosa, appears to have the inside track on the job.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since September, when Michelle King went on medical leave. King announced in January that she had cancer and would not return to the job.

L.A. Unified faces rising pension costs, underfunded retiree health benefits and union pressure to raise salaries, all while declining enrollment is draining financial resources, The Times reported.

Members of the union representing thousands of LAUSD cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other support employees have already authorized a strike if a contract agreement cannot be reached. District officials said they are already working on contingency plans to prevent disruptions to campus activities if a strike is called.

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