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New Inglewood state trustee to meet with residents

INGLEWOOD — Vincent Matthews, the newly appointed Inglewood Unified School District state trustee, is planning an informal gathering with the public to discuss topics that pertain to the school district.

The public meeting is scheduled to take place from 4 to 6 p.m., Oct. 20 at Crozier Middle School.

An announcement issued by the district informing residents of the meeting said, “With a lot of exciting changes taking place in recent months, this is your opportunity to meet our leadership team, principals, teachers and support staff. We welcome you to learn more about our educational programs, vision and plans for the future of our community schools.”

“Inglewood students deserve a world-class education, and I am eager to work with teachers, parents, and the Inglewood community to realize every student’s potential,” Matthews said in the announcement. “It will take a sense of urgency and a spirit of collaboration, and I have no doubt we can deliver a high-quality education in every classroom and return local control to the elected school board.”

Matthews takes over as state trustee on Oct. 19. He will immediately encounter many systemic challenges within the district, which was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2012 when the state began overseeing its operations.

The district has a high proportion of low-income students and English learners. It has benefited from an infusion of state money the past two years under the state’s new local control funding formula.

However, the district’s fiscal outlook remains troubled because of decreasing student enrollment.

Over the last decade, the district has lost about one-fourth of its students due to the rising popularity of charter schools and other reasons.

“As we enter a new phase in the path toward local control, we’re building on a strong financial foundation where robust academic programs are my priority,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “There are very few leaders who have led districts under state receivership and Dr. Matthews is one of them. His experience and passion are the right fit at the right time for the Inglewood school community.”

Mayor James Butts said he was looking forward to working with Matthews.

“The body of work for [him] is deep, wide and impressive,” Butts said. “Having returned the Oakland Unified School District to local control as the state trustee, he was selected as the superintendent of the San Jose School District.

“After serving that community for five years, he has committed to come to Inglewood … as the state trustee here. … He has further committed to move his family to Inglewood. These are indicators of personal involvement and commitment to the Inglewood community at large and the children of Inglewood specifically,” Butts added.

Butts said Matthews has his work cut out for him here. He needs to figure out how the new district enrollment fits with both personnel allocations and facilities maintained by the district.

He also needs to re-establish communication with the elected officials of the city.

“I and the City Council look forward to providing 100 percent support to Dr. Matthews as he transitions to the city of Inglewood,” Butts added.

The mayor will host a reception for Matthews Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. and 1 p.m at the Forum Club.

D’artagnan Scorza, a member of the Inglewood school board, which currently only has an advisory role in district operations, said he and other board members were looking forward to working with Matthews.

“The Board of Education is excited to welcome Dr. Matthews as we work with the California Department of Education to improve enrollment, modernize our facilities, improve the safety of our campuses and build effective strategies for student achievement,” Scorza said. “Dr. Matthews will be an asset to Inglewood Unified because he brings a wealth of experience and a creative vision for educating every child.”

Matthews will be the fourth state administrator for the district in the three years since the state Legislature agreed to loan the district $55 million to avoid bankruptcy.

Matthews replaces Don Brann, who has served as the state trustee overseeing the district since July 2013. Brann announced his intention to retire at the end of June.

Matthews has served as the superintendent in San Jose since May 2010. For a year before that, he served as the state trustee for the Oakland Unified School District, which was under state oversight at the time.

Prior to his work in Oakland, he served as regional superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest school district in the state.