Portland Public School Superintendent Finalists Meet with Parents

Elise Haas and Tim Steele

19 minutes ago

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The three finalists to become Portland Public Schools’ next superintendent participated in a meeting with parents and students Tuesday evening.

The PPS Board of Directors considers community feedback during the hiring process, even though it is the sole entity responsible for hiring Guadalupe Guerrero’s successor.

The finalists — Dr. Iton Udosenata of Salem, Dr. Kimberlee Armstrong of Vancouver and Dr. Paul Cruz of Austin, Texas — listened to parents and addressed their concerns.

Parents want the next PPS leader who will advocate for public funding of education and tackle growing class sizes. They are looking for a committed leader with a long-term plan for students. And they want the next superintendent to rebuild trust and relationships.

“We have a budget deficit. It’s a challenge,” Udosenata said. “And if you ask anyone who has worked with me or anyone who knew me as a child, they will tell you that I am up for this challenge. And here’s why: because I believe in relationships, I do, and I know this community needs healing.

(L to R) Paul Cruz, Kimberlee Armstrong, PPS Superintendent Finalists Iton Udosenata, May 21, 2024 (PPS)
(L to R) Paul Cruz, Kimberlee Armstrong, PPS Superintendent Finalists Iton Udosenata, May 21, 2024 (PPS)

Udosenata has 20 years of experience in public education in Oregon and California. He is the assistant superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District.

Cruz has more than 30 years of experience in public schools and is a former superintendent of the Austin Independent School District.

“I strongly believe in educating every student from all backgrounds, especially those who need us the most,” Cruz said.

Armstrong, who serves as assistant superintendent of the Evergreen Public School District and has 25 years of experience in public schools, was once the former chief academic officer of PPS.

“We still have kids in classrooms who are a few levels lower in math, reading and writing. And that’s unacceptable,” Armstrong said. “I believe we have everyone here to start closing those gaps.”

David Jones, president of the Vestal Elementary School PTA, was one of those at the meeting. He said he was impressed by the three finalists.

“It’s been a tough year, and I’m really looking for a candidate who can rebuild the community and get everyone on the same page going forward, for the kids,” Jones said.

Parents filled out surveys on every candidate they heard about. The PPS board plans to announce the name of the new superintendent by mid-June.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story