Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said resigning office to take a new job would have been “a deal-breaker.”
On Tuesday, Luna made headlines when he announced he accepted a job as a vice president of the Indianapolis-based education nonprofit Project Lead the Way.
Luna, who is not running for reelection in November, will begin his new job in January, once his current term expires.
“It was a condition of mine, and it was a term, that I wasn’t interested at all in resigning,” Luna said. “The people elected me to serve four years, and we have a lot on our plate as is.”
Some officials at Project Lead the Way initially hoped Luna would be able to start the new position sooner, he said.
Even though he said he was not actively applying for job opportunities, accepting his next job has been a relief. Without naming names, Luna said he was approached numerous times about different job opportunities since announcing his decision not to run again. He even said he was approached about being state superintendent in other states, which he was not interested in.
“It finally gets it off the table,” Luna said. “Every reporter I talked to, and most people I run into want to know what my plans are. (The new job) also means once word is out, I’m not getting phone calls from other people wanting to know if I’m interested.”
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Now, Luna can focus squarely on education and achieving his goals for the final four and a half months of his term. His objectives include implementing interrelated systems of teacher certification and a career ladder form of educator pay, transitioning to the full Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests this school year, writing a 2016 budget proposal and continuing to integrate technology in schools.
“I wasn’t going to leave early,” he said. “Quite frankly, it would have been a deal- breaker.”
Had Luna left early, that would have put Gov. Butch Otter in the awkward position of appointing an interim superintendent of public instruction in the weeks leading up to November’s much anticipated showdown between Republican Sherri Ybarra and Democrat Jana Jones.
“I’m not staying in office to avoid giving Butch Otter a headache,” Luna said. “I’m staying because I am passionate about the work and it is what I was elected to do. It’s the right thing to stay until it’s done.”