By Mary O’KEEFE
After six and a half years as Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Michael Escalante is saying goodbye.
“I need to start making up for all the time I spent away from my family,” Escalante said.
Before coming to Glendale Escalante was superintendent of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District and had over 30 years of experience in the field of education. He followed in Superintendent Jim Brown’s footsteps who had just completed what he called an $8 million challenge. That was when the district’s budget was a projected $8 million shortfall. Since taking on the top job, Escalante has had to balance teachers and certified employee contracts with an ever-shrinking educational budget. All this while keeping the budget cuts away from the classroom.
The task is daunting and one that requires a lot of hours away from family and friends.
“I come to work in the dark and go home in the dark,” he said.
Recently Escalante was in a serious car accident. He credits this as the catalyst in making him reevaluate the time he has taken from family.
“You ask yourself what would have you done [if you had that time],” he said.
In addition to his superintendent duties Escalante also teaches part time at the University of Southern California in their doctoral program. He plans to continue in that position and is looking at other options in the private sector.
Escalante informed the school board of his decision in closed session during the December meeting.
“I’ve learned that leadership in public education isn’t for the faint of heart,” he said of whoever his successor will be. “The thing I think is probably the most important is they have thick skin and a relentless positive attitude.”
Escalante will be leaving at the end of June 2010.