After dedicating more than 40 years of her life to education, Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno announced she will retire June 30, 2022, following the 2021-2022 school year.
“I am now in a place to reflect on all the wonderful educators, teams and communities with whom I have worked. I feel a sense of accomplishment for all the good work we have done together,” Santorno said. “Here in Tacoma Public Schools, I am proud our entire organization has shown how all students can succeed in rigorous, advanced courses, how all students can graduate from high school and how all students can go on to a post-secondary education if they choose.”
Santorno led the charge to aggressively improve Tacoma’s graduation rate, which rose to 89.9 percent in 2020 – the highest it’s been since the state began tracking it in 2003.
Even after hitting that milestone, Santorno acknowledges the work still to come.
“People have asked me from time to time when I would retire. I have always said I don’t want to stop until all students feel equally represented, until all students have the right, equitable access, coaching and nurturing to succeed,” Santorno said.
Santorno hopes to focus on that work in the next school year by building on the foundation of an equity initiative and training program already built by the district’s Equity Design Team. The work intends to improve cultural awareness, competency, understanding, attitudes and behaviors of district employees.
“I need to see that work through, because I firmly believe it will make a significant difference in the success and high achievement of all TPS students,” Santorno said.
Santorno will work with the Tacoma School Board of Directors to collaborate on a thoughtful and smooth transition plan for the 2021-2022 school year.
Santorno started her career with Tacoma Public Schools in 2009 as deputy superintendent working for then-Superintendent Art Jarvis. She succeeded Jarvis as Interim Superintendent in January 2012, then as Superintendent beginning in July 2012. In 2016, the School Superintendents Association named her the winner of its national Women in Leadership Award.
Santorno spent most of her career as a teacher, principal, administrator and area superintendent in Denver Public Schools. She worked for Seattle Public Schools as chief academic officer.
About Tacoma Schools
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...