Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ray Cortines retired from his position last week at the age of 78.
Cortines took on the role of the district's superintendent in 2008. According to the Daily News despite the "external turmoil roiling through the educational system at the moment—academic reform, charter schools, budget cuts, to name a few—he leaves the district better than he found it."
Cortines was handpicked by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. During his term, he was challenged with cutting LAUSD's $8 billion budget by $1.5 billion.
According to Gary Toebban, president and CEO of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, Cortines made students a priority when deciding where to cut the budget. He cut the "central support office by nearly half and increased the portion of resources going directly to schools and classrooms," wrote Toebban in a thank-you letter to Cortines.
During Cortines' tenure, LAUSD students' scores rose, as did the district's Academic Performance Index score, which increased by 47 points to a total of 709.
LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer credits Cortines for holding the district together through economic and political storms, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Cortines also enhanced board member Yolie Flores Public School Choice Resolution by re-staffing some of the lowest performing schools, said Toebban.
And before leaving, Cortines helped LAUSD officials choose his successor, John Deasy.
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