There was praise and just a touch of uncertainty in Key Biscayne with last week’s news that Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho would be leaving his post after 13 years to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In Key Biscayne, Carvalaho will likely be best remembered for the 2012 deal creating a new high school for some village students at MAST Academy on Virginia Key, with the Village supplying $18 million in financing.
Carvalho came to the U.S. at 17 from Portugal, working as a dishwasher before graduating from Barry University on a premedical track. He almost immediately took a job as a teacher, where he excelled; rising to become an assistant principal after only 4 years, serving later as a district spokesperson. He was named to the position of superintendent in 2008.
“We’ve pulled this district from financial bankruptcy, from academic bankruptcy, where dozens of schools were rated ‘D’ or ‘F,’ where graduation rates were at 58%,” said Carvalho during his press conference. Today, the district is A-rated, with graduation rates at 93%, and 99% of schools rated A, B, or C under Florida Department of Education metrics.
Mari Tere Rojas, a school board member who represents the island, had nothing but praise.
“At the end of day, he has been here for 13 years, and has done many wonderful, innovative things. I, for one, wish him well in this new opportunity.” She said the new job will represent another exciting challenge for him.
Rojas said Carvalho’s contract requires 90 days’ notice, but expects the exact date will be negotiated. She said it’s too early to know much about the search process for a successor. She did not opine as to whether she’d prefer a national search or a promote-from-within strategy. The board is set to meet Wednesday and Rojas expects some greater clarity on the search process will emerge at that meeting.
Teachers and education officials alike expressed cautious optimism
“I, for one, am eager to build partnerships with the next administration. I wish [Carvalho] the best of luck,” said Oscar Sardinas, a member of Key Biscayne’s educational advisory board.
Carvalho’s tenure has not been without controversy, most notably in a high profile dispute with Gov. Ron DeSantis over mask mandates and other COVID-19 precautionary measures in schools.
“I think he’ll certainly have an easier time in L.A. I hope he can find a more like minded culture, away from these fights,” said Gina Sese, who teaches marine science at MAST.
“Most importantly, though, I hope whoever the incoming superintendent is open to new ideas and willing to listen to our teachers.”
The shift to L.A. Unified moves Carvalho from being in charge of the country’s 4th largest district to its 2nd. L.A. also contains a similarly high percentage of Latino students.