Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent announces resignation

WASHINGTON — Fairfax County Public Schools’ superintendent announced her resignation Monday after more than three years at the helm.

Superintendent Karen Garza said she is leaving the job on or before Dec. 16, 2016 for a job as the president and CEO of Battelle for Kids, a not-for-profit education organization based out of Columbus, Ohio.

“It has been an honor and privilege to have worked with the dedicated and professional staff who make FCPS the finest school system in the country,” Garza said in a statement Monday.

Garza, the first woman to hold the position, has been the superintendent for the school system since June 2013.

The school board will soon name an interim superintendent and in the coming weeks will provide details regarding a search process, said School Board Chair Sandy Evans.

“The School Board is extremely sorry to lose Dr. Garza, but is very grateful for her leadership since 2013. We wish her the very best in her next endeavor,” Evans said in a statement.

Evans, who praised Garza as a “transformational leader,” pointed to several successes during her administration: later daily school start times for high school students, longer school days for kindergarten students and reducing elementary class sizes.

In recent years, Fairfax County Public Schools faced significant budget shortfalls and Garza spent the latter part of her tenure mired in a back-and-forth with county officials over the school’s budget.

Last fall, an independent budget task force recommended a number of cost-cutting measures to close a $72 million budget shortfall, including increasing class size, cutting language immersion programs and some sports programs.

But when Garza unveiled her planned 2017 budget in January — a $2.7 billion proposal — she made no cuts to staffing or programs and actually proposed making some investments in areas, such as teacher salaries, eventually leading to a showdown with the county’s board of supervisors.

The board eventually relented — increasing the tax rate to pay for school spending increases — and voted to approve Garza’s full budget proposal.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.

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