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Cortines Offers to Stay On if New Schools Chief Wishes


Interim Supt. Ramon C. Cortines on Thursday said he will stay at the Los Angeles school district past his July 1 departure date if his replacement asks for his help to ensure a smooth transition.

"But we'll have to see who gets hired," Cortines said. "That person may not want me to stick around."

Members of the Los Angeles Board of Education, which is expected to appoint a new schools chief sometime next week, said the three candidates interviewed so far have said they would want to consult him.

The board has set Monday as its target for naming a new superintendent so that person could work with Cortines to implement a reorganization that takes effect July 1.

Until Thursday, Cortines had insisted that he would not stay past July 1. But in an interview he said he would stay for an indefinite period to assist the new superintendent.

Board member Victoria Castro suggested that three months would not be unreasonable given the enormous restructuring underway in the 711,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District.

"I don't think a new superintendent could make it a good transition without Cortines' initial support," she said.

On Thursday, the board interviewed longtime school reformer and ex-Colorado Gov. Roy Romer a second time. The private meeting lasted more than two hours.

"He remains a very strong candidate for this job," board President Genethia Hayes said.

The board plans to conduct additional interviews Saturday and Monday with the two other candidates: George Munoz, a former president of the Chicago Board of Education who now heads a federal agency that promotes international trade, and John Murphy, the former superintendent of the Charlotte, N.C., schools. Also scheduled for an interview is Rudy Crew, former chancellor of the New York City schools who now heads the University of Washington's partnership with K-12 schools.

The field will remain open until the last possible minute, officials said.

"We'll have someone selected no later than next Friday, I'd put money on it," Castro said. "But it may not be by a 7-0 vote."

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