Austin Beutner met the media Wednesday afternoon for the first time since he was named the Los Angeles Unified School District's next superintendent.
Flanked by dozens of students at Belmont High School, Beutner acknowledged he was an "unconventional choice to be superintendent." Beutner is a former investment banker who has never been a teacher or school administrator — though he has in recent months co-chaired a task force that's examined some of L.A. Unified's most intractable issues.
Here's what Beutner had to say in his press conference:
Will there be budget cuts?
"My job is to make sure that we open and breathe — that we bring [into the conversation] those who can help make the right set of the decisions. It’s a little bit early. I don’t have any specific recommendations have to make. I would put it in a broader context.
"This is an organization in which people do that work. So ‘cuts’ is this notion that somehow exists in the ether that impacts the lives of those who do the work, but importantly, impacts what happens in the classroom. Before we get to that, we need to take a step back and say what are our values as an organization? What are we prioritizing? And make sure the resources go there."
Is running the district like running a business?
"A school district, education is not a business, but some of the same principles can be used: you build a team, you learn, you’ll be informed by data, you can hold people accountable to do the job they committed to do …
"Part of what I need to do is recognize I can learn, and I will learn. I have to surround myself with people who know how this district works, who know more about what happens in the classroom than I do, and slow it down and make sure we’re all talking the same language."
Any message for teachers?
"The magic happens in the classroom. It’s my job to make sure they have the resources and the training they need to do their job, which is to inspire and educate the kids.”