In a 3-to-2 vote on Monday, the Tempe Union High School District governing board named Kenneth Baca its next superintendent.

Pending finalization of the contract, Baca will start the position on July 1. He replaces Steve Adolph, who has worked in education for more than 30 years and announced in November he will be retiring after three years as superintendent.

Baca was one of two finalists for the position. He and Dr. Greg Wyman, associate superintendent at TUHSD, had multiple interviews with the governing board and participated in a public forum prior to the selection.

“I was very pleased, very honored and also very humbled,” Baca said. “I just look forward to the tremendous opportunity and to have a smooth transition.”

Baca will be leaving his job as associate superintendent of business services for Phoenix Elementary School District. He has worked with PESD since 2002 and previously worked as the director of assessment, evaluation and externally funded programs and as principal Kenilworth School.

“He has a broad array of experience from kindergarten through high school,” TUHSD governing board president Zita Johnson said. “He talked about how important it is to reach out to everyone and listen (and he) mentioned specifically from the cafeteria workers to students to the staff. I was struck by that.”

The national search for a superintendent was narrowed to five candidates, which included Dr. Anna Battle of Desert Vista High School, and eventually to two.

“We were thrilled to get so many talented and qualified candidates from across the nation,” Johnson said. “(Baca’s) vision for the district matched up with our strategic plan and he demonstrated detailed knowledge of our district.”

Baca said he has already spoken with Adolph about the coming year.

“We spoke about the need for a transition that is smooth and seamless,” he said. “My goal is to continue the excellence that the staff and parents have grown to expect of this district.”

Johnson, Michelle Helm and DeeAnne Clowes voted in favor of appointing Baca superintendent; David Schapira and Mary Lou Taylor voted “nay.”

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