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Eugene School District’s Gustavo Balderas Selected as Oregon’s Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Gustavo Balderas, the Superintendent of Eugene School District 4J since 2015, has been named the 2020 Oregon Superintendent of the Year by the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE) and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). Balderas’ selection for this award automatically places him in the running for the National Superintendent of the Year Award from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

“Gustavo Balderas is a model for student-centered leadership in public education. He is respected by educators across the state not just because he works tirelessly for kids, but because he does so with unmatched integrity, humility, and professionalism. OASE is excited to have Gus represent all superintendents across the state as the 2020 Oregon Superintendent of the Year,” said Candy Armstrong, North Wasco County School District Superintendent and president of OASE.

Balderas was raised as the child of migrant farm workers in Nyssa, Oregon, near the Idaho border. He is a product of Oregon’s public school system and followed his K–12 education by earning his bachelor’s degree from Western Oregon University, his master’s degree from Portland State University, and his doctoral degree in education leadership from the University of Oregon. Balderas has been an educator for nearly 30 years, mostly in Oregon, starting his Oregon career as a high school teacher and counselor in the Hillsboro School District.

“Dr. Balderas' recognition as the Oregon Superintendent of the Year should come as no surprise to our board, our district and community,” said Anne Marie Levis, Chair of the Eugene School Board. “Dr. Balderas has been an exceptional leader for our schools and has transformed the way we look at education for our kids. He is laser-focused on results for our students, insightful in the work that he does and knowledgeable about what makes a difference for our students and their achievement. Our district is thrilled that he is being honored with this award.”

Under Balderas’ leadership, the community passed a historic $319.3 million bond measure and renewed 4J’s local option levy, funding nearly 10% of the district’s operating budget.

Balderas is known as a statewide leader in educational equity and has made significant progress on equity issues in Eugene. For example, “Nearly 40% of school principals and 30% of all administrators in 4J are people of color—a far higher percentage than any other district in Oregon and on track with the state’s priority for employing staff who look like the students they serve,” said Dr. Rob Hess, a district administrator in Eugene. Balderas is a co-founder and past president of the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators (OALA), and currently serves as a board member and treasurer for the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents.

“Gus is a listener, collaborator, and strategic problem solver. He is a constant source of counsel and information for myself and other educators throughout the state of Oregon and beyond,” said Hillsboro School District Superintendent and OASE Board Member Mike Scott, a longtime colleague of Balderas. “His ability to build relationships, see issues from a variety of perspectives, and maintain focus on a larger vision for student achievement makes him an excellent choice for Superintendent of the Year.”

In addition to his work as Superintendent of the Eugene School District, Balderas serves in other local and statewide positions. He is the Superintendent Advisor to the Oregon State Board of Education, a member of the Executive Board of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), a member of the COSA Equity Advisory Board, and a board member of the Oregon Department of Education English Learner Advisory Group. Locally in Eugene, he serves on the boards of United Way of Lane County, the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, Trillium Community Health Plan, Connected Lane County, the Lane Early Learning Alliance, and PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Community Health Board.

Balderas will be honored with a formal presentation at the 2019 Oregon School Boards Association annual conference November 14–17 in Portland, Oregon; at the 2020 OASE Winter Conference in Gleneden Beach in January, at the AASA National Conference on Education in San Diego in February, and at the 2020 COSA Annual Conference in Seaside in June.