LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser announces retirement at end of school year

Chris Steinhauser, the longtime Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent who steered the district through recession and racked up plaudits for the diverse, 81,000-student district, announced his retirement Wednesday.

Steinhauser, who served as the district’s superintendent for the past 18 years, did not give a reason for his resignation other than that the timing was right for him to step down.

“I have been superintendent of this great school district for 18 years,” Steinhauser, 60, said in a statement posted on the district website. “I love my job. But the time is right to announce that I will be retiring at the end of this academic year.”

His last day is expected to be July 2.

He also posted a video message announcing his resignation outside Roosevelt Elementary School, the school he started his LBUSD career at 38 years ago as a fifth grade teacher.

“I know the future of Long Beach Unified is bright and I look forward to what the journey holds for all of us,” Steinhauser said. “Take care and thank you.”

He had alluded that retirement was on the horizon earlier this year when he noted that the average age for an educator to retire at was 58, but the 60-year-old Steinhauser said that he still loved his job and there were still good things to be done.

Steinhauser, whose son Edward is an assistant principal at Wilson High School, is the longest-serving schools chief in the state and one of the longest-serving in the nation.

The district, with 65% of its student body on free-and-reduced lunches, enjoys relatively high graduation rates and test scores for a big-city district. Long Beach also pays relatively high teacher salaries and has few charter or private schools to compete with.

News of Steinhauser’s announcement spread quickly on social media with a number of Long Beach officials weighing in on the news. LBUSD Board Member Megan Kerr thanked Steinhauser for his leadership and for putting students above everything. She also thanked his family.

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, who worked as a teacher in the district under Steinhauser, thanked him for his years of service to the community and to its students in a Facebook post.

“As a parent and as chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I know firsthand that you have been a great educational leader and example to others,” O’Donnell wrote. “You leave behind a district that is better because of you but is not solely dependent upon you, and that is the sign of a great leader.”

Steinhauser’s resignation will become effective at the end of the school year which runs to July 2. The superintendent is hired by the board of education and a search for a successor now must be undertaken by the board. No timeline has been established by the board for a search to fill his position as Steinhauser’s announcement was shared with them just hours before he made the announcement public.

Deputy Superintendent Jill Baker has been considered a possible successor to Steinhauser. The district has tended to hire from within.

Two board seats are open for elections in March. Longtime board member Jon Meyer said last August that his “personal hope is (Steinhauser) will allow the present board to choose his successor.”  He said then that the present board consisted of “sensible, well-centered people.”

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Barbara Kingsley-Wilson is a full-time lecturer at California State University, Long Beach and an adviser to the campus’s student run newspaper, the Daily 49er. A journalist with over 20 years in the field, she continues to write and spends her summers as a general assignment reporter for the Long Beach Post. When she’s not drilling her pupils on the details of AP style, she’s likely practicing her downward dog or traversing the city perched atop her mountain bike.