Former chief schools officer, deputy commissioner for dropout prevention has led initiatives to increase student achievement across Austin
AUSTIN, Texas—Tonight, Austin ISD’s Board of Trustees named Paul Cruz, Ph.D., as the sole finalist for the permanent superintendent position. Prior to being named interim superintendent in April, Cruz served as the district’s chief schools officer for five years.
“Dr. Cruz has been at the center of AISD’s success—from increasing student performance to reaching an all-time high graduation rate,” Vincent Torres, AISD board president, said. “We are fortunate to be able to call upon his leadership, talent and commitment to building stronger relationships with the community to ensure AISD continues to move forward and support the achievement of all students.”
Cruz has worked in the field of education throughout Texas for more than 28 years.
Throughout his career, Cruz has served as a teacher, campus administrator, district leader and superintendent in Austin, Corpus Christi, Round Rock, San Antonio and South Texas. In 2002, he joined the TEA, where he served as deputy commissioner. In 2006, Cruz joined AISD as an assistant superintendent for educational services, focusing on college readiness, dropout prevention, counseling and student support services. He also served as the associate superintendent for middle schools
“Dr. Cruz understands the challenges and opportunities of public education in Texas. He understands the legislative issues facing the district,” Torres said. “He knows AISD. He knows our schools. And, most importantly, he knows our community.”
As AISD’s chief schools officer, Cruz has led the district’s 129 campus communities during a period of transformative change as demographics have shifted and the fiscal landscape of public education has changed.
Working with AISD’s principals and teachers, Cruz has helped spearhead strategies to increase student performance across the district. Cruz, a former deputy commissioner for drop-out prevention at the Texas Education Agency, focused on supporting programs and investments designed to close the achievement gap.
Cruz also has helped plan and implement the district’s signature programs such as social and emotional learning, dual-language, early college high schools and the creative learning initiative, which make arts-rich schools a priority—and reality—for all students.
Cruz earned his bachelor’s of science degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin and master’s degree in educational administration from Corpus Christi State University. He also earned his doctoral degree in educational administration, focusing on the urban superintendency, from the University of Texas at Austin—all before the age of 30.
When he was named interim superintendent earlier this year, Cruz said his role is “to keep our district moving forward and focused on our core business: our students’ success.”
During the past eight months, Cruz and his leadership team have finalized AISD’s budget of about $1 billion for the 2014-15 school year, reviewed and implemented the first phase of the facility master plan and continued to lead the rollout of AISD’s signature programs. They also are working together to develop the district’s five-year strategic plan and to create a district-wide customer service plan.
“As a parent and teacher, I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to continue to help lead Austin’s school district during this ever-changing and exciting time,” Cruz said. “We have great students who continue to excel, as well as talented teachers, exceptional campus leaders, outstanding support staff, and dedicated parents. We also have community members and partners who are willing to step up and help our district succeed. It is a privilege to support and work alongside our great Austin community.”