St. Paul Public Schools superintendent will leave the job in 2018


The leader of the second-largest school district in Minnesota says she will not seek to extend her contract once it's up in 2018.

Superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools Valeria Silva didn't make a formal announcement, but she did tell the Pioneer Press that when her three-year contract is up she "definitely" does not want to stay on as superintendent.

"It gets to the point that any leader, if it gets too long in an organization, it becomes ineffective," she told the paper. "I don’t want to be that leader. I really want to be an effective leader who can see different perspectives. And sometimes personality — people don’t like your style, and that’s when change needs to happen."

Toya Stewart Downey, a district spokesperson, confirmed Silva's decision with BringMeTheNews Thursday morning.

When her contract expires in 2018, Silva will have served as superintendent for nine years, the district's website shows. MPR News says that's nearly triple the average tenure of superintendents in large cities – the average tenure for an urban school superintendent was 3.18 years in 2014, according to a Council of Great City Schools survey.

By that time, Silva will have worked for St. Paul Public Schools for 33 years, including as a teacher, principal, administrator and then superintendent, Downey says.

Her tenure has been controversial as of late. The 2015-16 school year began with several incidents of student violence, including an incident where a teacher was choked unconscious. These incidents had teachers threatening to strike.

The school district recently rolled out a new plan to address school safety.

The news of Silva's plans came on the same day St. Paul Federation of Teachers staged "walk-ins" at local schools in effort to improve their school's climate. Demands included hiring more librarians, counselors, social workers and nurses, to addressing equity pay gaps, pre-K expansion and dual immersion.

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers is currently in contract negotiations with the district.

Silva told the Star Tribune her decision is about timing, noting she will be eligible for full pension benefits at the end of her current contract, and the criticism she has gotten recently did not influence her decision.

She told the paper that over the next three years she hopes to ease school-climate concerns.

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