Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Garza says she will resign from her post Dec. 16 to take a new post as President and Chief Executive Officer of Battelle for Kids, an education nonprofit in Columbus, Ohio.
Garza was hired by FCPS in June 2013. She was the school system’s first woman superintendent.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served this world class school system since June 2013,” she said in a letter to FCPS employees on Monday. “It has been an honor and privilege to have worked with the dedicated and professional staff who make FCPS the finest school system in the country.”
During Garza’s tenure, she led continuing efforts for school funding, smaller classes and staff compensation. She eliminated the elementary school’s half-day Mondays, instituted the system’s “Portrait of a Graduate” and changed high school start times to after 8 a.m. so teens could get needed sleep.
The school board says it wishes Garza the best in her new job.
“The School Board is extremely sorry to lose Dr. Garza, but is very grateful for her leadership since 2013,” board chair Sandy Evans said in a statement. “We wish her the very best in her next endeavor.”
“As the first woman to lead FCPS in its history, Dr. Garza has been a transformational leader who has had a tremendous positive impact on our schools, families, employees, and most importantly the children of Fairfax County. She has taken FCPS to new levels of achievement with vision, candor, and grace. Dr. Garza and her Leadership Team worked closely with the School Board to establish the Portrait of a Graduate and to create our strategic plan, Ignite.”
Evans said Garza should be proud of her many achievements, including “maintaining FCPS standards of excellence to providing focused attention and action to support our most challenged schools.”
“Dr. Garza succeeded in implementing later high school start times and full day Mondays for elementary students, and reducing elementary class size,” said Evans. “A tireless advocate for teachers, she navigated one of the most challenging budget environments in recent memory, and achieved the largest investment in FCPS teacher compensation in a decade.”
The school board will soon name an interim superintendent and in the coming weeks will provide details regarding a search process, Evans said.