RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

Chris Evans takes over as the fifth superintendent in three years for the Natomas Unified School District. The Sacramento native says: "My family is here. I'm not going anywhere."

Q&A: Chris Evans, Natomas Unified superintendent, faces challenges

Published: Sunday, Jun. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2012 - 9:32 am

Chris Evans hasn't officially been superintendent of the Natomas Unified School District for a month, but already he's helped to hire a slate of new administrators and presided over a contentious school board meeting.

His job won't be easy.

The 40-year-old is the district's fifth superintendent in three years. His biggest challenge is likely to be the strained relationships between the district's unions and top leadership. Both the teachers' and classified employees' unions are at loggerheads with the district over contract-related issues.

The district also has instituted a higher level of accountability that has some employees crying foul.

Less than a year ago, Natomas Unified was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and many of its top administrators had resigned.

But Evans, a Sacramento native, is glad to return home after four years in the Fresno Unified School District. He was the associate superintendent in charge of the academic progress of middle and high school students.

Before going to Fresno Unified, Evans worked for the Elk Grove Unified and Lodi Unified school districts.

He will earn $176,000 a year, a $400 monthly car allowance and the use of an iPad. He also will be given a $7,000 moving allowance.

Here are his answers to some questions from The Bee:

>How would you describe your management style?

Collaborative. Data-centered. I want to find out what our challenges are. You can do that by pulling and assessing data. In a time of limited resources, data really help to guide where to put your time and money.

I consider myself a teacher on a long-term special assignment. I'm willing to teach or get others to teach to help others attain skills.

>Talk about your goals for the district?

We're still developing goals. Top among them is accountability and student achievement.

>The district has had five su- perintendents in three years. Are you planning to stay?

I am. The only way to respond is to be here awhile. I am a Sacramento native. My family is here. I'm not going anywhere.

>What is the biggest hurdle for the district?

Getting through this impasse (with the unions) and getting to a financial solution, so we can stop talking about money and start talking about programs. It's time to stop talking about money and start talking about kids.

>What is the new role of your predecessor, Walt Hanline?

He will be a consultant and finish outstanding projects like negotiations and developing partnerships with charter schools.

>Can you talk about the relationship between the district and its employees?

It had been a challenging year for a lot of staff. They had an increase in accountability. But we will provide the professional support they need. It will feel different, but … in a good way.

Rich professional development helps us grow.

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