Superintendent, Carla J. Santorno

Carla 2-13-13.jpgCarla Santorno, a national award-winning superintendent, has led an academic improvement effort that has increased the Tacoma Public Schools graduation to 89.3 percent for the class of 2018. That's up from 59.2 percent when she joined the district in 2009 as deputy superintendent. AASA, the School Superintendent's Association, named Carla the winner of its national 2016 Women in School Leadership Award. Carla consistently says her primary goal as superintendent is to increase student achievement.  She stays close to teachers and strives to provide them the support they need to effectively educate Tacoma's students. Connecting with all the players in the district – from parents to teachers, food service workers, bus drivers and custodial staff, is a part of her vision to create an aligned focus from classroom to classroom and school to school.

Carla got her start in education in Denver, Colorado, where she began as a student, then became an elementary school teacher and grew into an accomplished area superintendent. She developed a strong, solid ability to raise student achievement in tough urban districts. Carla and her husband, Larry, raised four children in Denver. Just prior to coming to Tacoma in 2009, she worked as the chief academic officer for the Seattle School District.

Carla collaborated with the Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors to adopt the district's first strategic plan in 2011 with four goal areas and 35 benchmarks of success. An advanced data system and a strong project management office insures transparency regarding that progress.  All results are posted on the Tacoma Public School website. As Carla often says, "What gets measured gets done."

That strategic work has led to a growing number of unique partnerships, which have generated positive community support and results for the Tacoma school children. For example, a partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority has provided housing vouchers for families of students at a low-income, high-mobility elementary school.  The vouchers come with strings—parent involvement and housing stability—that benefit students.

Partnerships with three local, four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, have yielded gap financial funding for qualified low income students, priority admission to education programs with guaranteed teacher interviews at graduation from college, and a whole child district initiative designed to provide a sustainable system for ensuring high-quality social emotional learning for students PreK-12.


Want Superintendent Carla Santorno to attend your event? 


Office of the Superintendent

Kathy Doss


Central Administration Building

601 S. 8th St., Tacoma, WA 98405