Portland Public Schools names 3 superintendent finalists

By Natalie Pate (OPB) and Rob Manning (OPB)
May 23, 2024 1:25 a.m.

The final candidates have experience helping run school districts in Salem, Vancouver and Austin — and offer a range of experience to the job.

The Portland Public Schools district office in Portland, Ore., Oct. 20, 2023.

The Portland Public Schools district office in Portland, Ore., Oct. 20, 2023.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

Oregon’s largest school district took several foundational steps this week toward its future, including getting a better sense of who its next leader may be.


Monday night, the Portland school board tentatively approved its budget for next school year. Board members agreed on $30 million in cuts for the upcoming school year, with reductions involving roughly 250 positions.

The following night, Portland voters approved a tax levy, renewing funding that will pay for the equivalent of more than 600 teaching positions over the next five years.

The district also this week announced the three finalists vying for the top leadership role at PPS — the new superintendent.

Shortly after Portland teachers and administrators settled a monthlong teachers’ strike at the end of November, former Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero announced his resignation from the district’s top position. He has since become the new chief executive officer of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.


Sandy Husk has served as the interim superintendent since mid-February.

PPS on Tuesday announced three finalists to be the district’s next permanent superintendent: Kimberlee Armstrong from Vancouver, Washington; Paul Cruz from Austin, Texas; and Iton Udosenata from Salem.

Armstrong is the current deputy superintendent for Evergreen Public Schools under Superintendent John Boyd (who is retiring at the end of this school year). Evergreen was the larger of two southwest Washington school districts to experience a teachers’ strike to start this school year. Armstrong is also familiar with PPS as she served as the district’s chief academic officer from mid-2022 until last year, when she moved across the river to Evergreen.

Cruz is the co-director of the Cooperative Superintendency Program and a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin. Before that, he spent more than three decades teaching or as a school administrator in Texas schools. He was the Austin superintendent from 2014 to 2020, making him the only finalist with experience as a superintendent. He’s credited with improving high school graduation rates in Austin, but he also had conflicts with school communities as the district closed several schools under his leadership.

Udosenata is the deputy superintendent of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, Oregon’s second-largest school district. He serves as a co-assistant superintendent, in charge of secondary schools. Salem-Keizer is wrestling with similar budget difficulties as Portland, with millions of dollars to cut and hundreds of positions slated to be eliminated. Before reaching senior administration in Salem, Udosenata was a principal for a total of seven years, at North Eugene and Cottage Grove high schools.

These finalists will advance to second-round interviews. Additionally, according to the district, the finalists will participate in a student interview panel, a principal and administrator panel, a labor leader meet and greet, and a community event for students, staff, families and community members to attend.

Members of the public are invited to attend the community event on Tuesday, May 28, from 6:30-9 p.m. at Grant High School at 2245 NE 36th Ave.

For more information and updates on the PPS superintendent search, go to