Jorge A. Aguilar – the son of Mexican farmworkers who went on to assume key leadership positions at UC Merced and the Fresno Unified School District – will become the next superintendent of the 43,000-student Sacramento City Unified School District once the school board gives final approval.
That approval is expected in early May, according to a Sacramento school district spokesman.
“I want to thank the Sacramento City Unified School District board of trustees and community leaders that I met during this extensive search process,” said Aguilar in a press statement.
“I am deeply inspired by their demonstration of commitment to urgently improve the academic achievement of the district’s 43,000 students. The longstanding partnership between the University of California, Merced and Fresno Unified School District has proven that this is possible. I am encouraged to be entering the next phase of this process in partnership with the board.”
Aguilar, 44, is currently an associate superintendent for Equity and Access at Fresno Unified.
A three-member school board committee chose Aguilar after starting the search in February. The full board must now approve the hire.
“Mr. Aguilar has proven experience in successfully addressing the needs of students like ours,” said Jay Hansen, school board president. “I believe the work Mr. Aguilar has done in Fresno and his background working on equity and achievement gap issues make him the ideal candidate for our district.”
Hansen pointed to increased graduation rates (from 69.2 percent to 85.4 percent) in Fresno from 2009-10 to 2015-16, the reduction in half of dropout rates in the same time period, and boosting the district’s A-G completion rates to 49.02 percent.
The Sacramento school district has a Latino enrollment of 39.5 percent. Fresno Unified’s Latino enrollment is 67.8 percent.
Aguilar will replace José L. Banda, who announced in January that he would be leaving his post. Banda’s contract expires at the end of June.
The Sacramento committee worked with a search firm and held eight public town hall meetings. The result, said spokesman Alex Barrios, is the community wants “a leader for the district who can bring the community together toward a strong vision of student achievement.”
Hansen and the search committee point to Aguilar’s experience as a Spanish teacher at South Gate High School, a legislative fellow in the state Capitol, and special assistant to the chancellor at UC Merced.
Aguilar, a graduate of Parlier High School, was raised in Parlier and Tangancicuaro, Michoacán, México.
He was instrumental in establishing a strong partnership between Fresno Unified and UC Merced.
Aguilar developed a data-based system that identified the academic, social, and emotional site practices and Fresno school district policies that inhibited the realization of student potential. He worked with administrators to implement changes to improve graduation rates, lower dropout rates and raise A-G completion rates.
Aguilar, a devoted runner, is married with four children.
He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish and Portuguese. He also earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School in Los Ángeles.