KHSD Superintendent Don Carter stepping down

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) It was a routine board meeting Monday evening at the Kern High School District until an unexpected announcement.

"I will be retiring from the Kern High School District as superintendent," said Don Carter.

Dr. Carter has been involved with KHSD since 1968, when he was a student. He began his career with the district as a teacher at Bakersfield High in 1976 and was later named principal. Carter was then chosen as district superintendent where he has served for the last 10 years.

Carter said his decision to retire was bittersweet.

"It's just a combination of what's best for the district, and obviously my family is extremely important to me," he said.

He's leaving California's largest high school district with more than 35,000 students and 3,500 employees. KHSD encompasses about 3,500 square miles, about 43 percent of the total area of Kern County.

During his tenure, student growth in the district has taken off. Four new schools have opened, and there have been numerous challenges.

"The last five years have been very tumultuous," said Carter, citing years of funding cuts to education.

As in the rest of the state, KHSD struggles with an academic achievement gap, a disparity between white students and other races.

"Obviously we would like to see a higher percentage of students ready for high school. But, our job is to take those students where they are and make them better," said Carter.

It will be up to the board of trustees to find a replacement.

"It's going to be big shoes to fill, but we look forward to the next challenge and the fact that you set us up well," said board president Chad Vegas.

Carter said he plans on staying involved in educational issues and will work as a consultant for KHSD and others. His last day will be Aug. 1.