Marla Stephenson was chosen as the new Superintendent of the Albany Unified School District. She will replace retiring William Wong in the upcoming academic year. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.
Marla Stephenson, currently serving as Assistant Superintendent of the school district, was selected among 31 applicants by the Board of Education Saturday. The Board announced the decision at its meeting Tuesday.
“We are looking forward to a very smooth transition. We think that there is some chance that Ms. Stephenson will understand the workings of the district fairly well, ” said Board President Charles Blanchard, arousing a hearty laugh and loud applause in the audience.
A number of parents opposed the Board’s plan to directly promote Stephenson into the superintendent position last October. The Board thus started an open hiring process and invited 14 members from the the community to interview and select candidates.
“The result is actually different. It’s very clear that the community has participated and contributed to the process, ” said Blanchard.
56-year-old Stephenson was thrilled at the job offer.
“I am on cloud nine. I am hardly able to sleep at night, ” she said. ” I am so excited to be in this position. I am looking forward to leading Albany schools from good to great.”
Stephenson has worked in her current position for five years, in charge of personnel and special education affairs. She worked as principal of Albany Middle School for four years previously.
She has more than 20 years’ experience in teaching and administrative positions in California public schools, starting from being a math and special education teacher in Berkeley Unified School District.
She said that she is passionate about Albany schools because parents and the whole community are devoted to education.
“You can just look at how many years I stay here to tell how much I love the community and the school district, ” Stephenson said. “(What attracts me most is) the intelligence of the community, and the thoughtfulness of it. “
The major challenge for Stephenson would be how to handle the massive cut in state budget for public schools, which might cause Albany schools to lose more than $1.5 million in state funds in the upcoming academic year.
Stephenson said that she would scrutinize all programs to make sure resources of the district be used at their maximum.
“I will be looking at all programs, as well as classroom staffing, looking throughout the system to make sure that we are a lean, mean, fighting machine, ” she said.