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Superintendent Gustavo Balderas started July 1, and already he has plans to listen and learn from the community.

Beaverton's new superintendent, Gustavo Balderas, has a plan to engage the community and listen to families, staff and students while he transitions into the role.

Balderas officially started his position on July 1, a few months after the school board unanimously voted to hire him. Almost immediately, he started working on his entry plan for the coming year.COURTESY: EDMONDS SCHOOL DISTRICT - The Beaverton School Board voted to hire new superintendent Gustavo Balderas at a meeting March 16.

As part of the first phase of his strategic plan, he's already been doing "a lot of listening and meeting with people, and just trying to get a lay of the land," Balderas said.

But Beaverton isn't quite new to Balderas. Before leaving the city over a decade ago, Balderas was a Beaverton resident for 16 years and his kids went to schools in the district, too.

"This is really coming home," he said. "I left about 12 years ago. The community has changed a bit — it's more diverse, which is just fantastic. And I look forward to just continuing to learn about all the great things that we've been doing and work with our school board and community."

The first phase in Balderas' entry plan will also include meetings with district staff, school leaders and students, as well as community leaders, community organizations and parent organizations.

Balderas also said he plans to be very accessible to families, students and staff, but also the broader community. He'll be out in the community at meetings or hosting coffee chats, he said, and he hopes residents will come and ask him questions or share their own comments.

"This is my fifth superintendency, so what I've learned over my tenure as a school employee for (over thirty years) is a stellar school district has a stellar community, and a stellar community has a stellar school district," he said. "It's rare you see one or the other."

During his first couple months in the role, Balderas said he's been in constant communication with former superintendent Don Grotting, picking his brain and asking him questions.

In the next phases of his plan, Balderas said he plans to use what he learned from others to inform what support is needed for students, families or staff. If anything needs to be fixed immediately, he will do so, but Balderas said he wants to wait and see how things work now before making drastic changes.

Balderas' main goal is to do what's right for all students in the district, including the more diverse population of students that wasn't there when Balderas was living in Beaverton 12 years ago.

Besides his long-term goals, Balderas is just excited to be back at school and hopefully have a normal year.

"Actually, this is our fourth (school year) of having to deal with the COVID virus. That's a long time," he said. "So I'm very excited to begin school and have kids back on campus."

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