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Salt Lake City School District

Salt Lake schools superintendent, business administrator resign

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Updated - Jan. 29, 2020 at 11:08 a.m. | Posted - Jan. 29, 2020 at 7:50 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake School Superintendent Lexi Cunningham and the district’s business administrator, Janet Roberts, have tendered their resignations effective at the end of the school year.

In a letter to constituents, Cunningham said she planned to pursue “the next adventure” in her career but she did not elaborate.

“While I will always treasure the memories and friendships that I have made, I now have the chance to pursue another educational opportunity. It is with mixed emotions that I will bid farewell to the Salt Lake City School District,” Cunningham wrote.

In November, Cunningham was named a finalist for the superintendency of Peoria Unified School District in Arizona, where she taught and served as principal for 17 years. She also has family in the area. Another candidate was ultimately hired.

Earlier this month, Cunningham was named a finalist to lead the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida, but was not selected for the position, according to press accounts and the district website.

Tiffany Sandberg, president of the Salt Lake City Board of Education, said both resigned for personal reasons but referred questions to the district spokeswoman. Roberts has worked for the school district 27 years, Sandberg said.

“They have both been very dedicated professionals. I’m going to miss working with them,” Sandberg said.

Cunningham has been superintendent of the Salt Lake schools since 2016. The district, which serves about 22,000 students, has been experiencing shrinking enrollment.

State funding formulas are typically based on enrollment, so declining head counts can pose challenges in terms of school finance, staffing and building utilization.

In February 2019, a school district committee recommended the closure of Bennion Elementary School. Study of the recommendation is ongoing.

Salt Lake School District is a minority-majority school district, meaning there are more ethnic minority students than white students. Nearly 59% of Salt Lake students qualify for free or reduced-price school breakfast and lunch, according to the district’s demographics.

Previous superintendents have said Salt Lake City School District is perhaps more public facing than other school districts because it is in Utah’s capital city and its shared-governance process involves many constituencies.

The school board recently concluded a listening tour on a proposal to push back start times at high schools. It is expected to conduct further discussion of the matter next month, likely moving to create a task force to further study the proposal.

The school district is also reviewing the case of West High School Principal Ford White, who was placed on administrative leave in November to investigate his handling of a situation that involved three students who were intoxicated at school. Instead of contacting police, White reportedly drove the students home, followed by a school administrator driving a second car, according to an email authored by a teacher. The school district has not released any specific details of the incident.

District spokeswoman Yándary Chatwin said Wednesday that the district’s review of the incident is nearing completion.

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