UNION CITY -- New Haven Unified's superintendent of schools has announced she is leaving the district, saying her differences with the school board over recent management choices fueled her decision.
Kari McVeigh, the district's superintendent since December 2008, will step down on Nov. 30, using about six weeks of vacation until she formally retires on Jan. 14, 2014.
"I am proud of the progress that our district has made in the past four-and-a-half years," she said in a statement released Wednesday. "But it has become painfully obvious to me that the board and I have irreconcilable differences about the board's insistence on injecting itself into management decisions."
Linda Canlas, New Haven's school board president, said the board had no immediate comment regarding McVeigh's retirement.
McVeigh, 58, said she started to consider leaving the district earlier this year, after the school board rejected one of her recommendations for the hiring of a principal and threatened to reject other recommendations. The superintendent informed the board's five members on Tuesday evening, shortly before a regularly scheduled meeting.
"A superintendent must be confident that he or she has the authority to make decisions about the day-to-day management of the district," she said. "And I no longer have that confidence."
McVeigh said she plans to pursue other career opportunities, though she does not have another job lined up.
She started her career in Las Vegas, where she spent 23 years as a teacher and principal in the Clark County School District. She worked five years as assistant superintendent in San Diego Unified, then was superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District for two years, before arriving in Union City.
She took the New Haven superintendent's job just as the economic recession and the state's budget cuts sent school district budgets reeling. The school board was forced to slash New Haven's budget from $114 million in 2008-09 to $91 million in 2012-13.
Those cuts caused reductions in services once considered unthinkable, such as closing Logan High's library hours for all but one period. The library reopened full-time last fall after an anonymous donor gave $60,000 to the district.
New Haven Unified serves more than 13,000 students in Union City and south Hayward.
In spite of its fiscal challenges, New Haven scored successes under McVeigh's watch. The district earned national recognition in December, when it was awarded a $29.3 million "Race to the Top" grant. New Haven finished second out of 372 school district applicants in becoming one of 16 nationwide recipients of the federal grant.
The cash-strapped district plans to spend those funds on furthering student studies in literacy and mathematics by expanding summer instruction to teachers, creating smaller classes for high school English learners, providing in-classroom academic coaches, and purchasing minicomputer tablets for every student in grades 6-12, and for every two K-5 students.
Those plans will have to be continued under the leadership of a new superintendent. Until then, McVeigh said she will remain committed to the job until she steps down six months from now.
That should "give the board sufficient time to determine its course of action and, I hope, to minimize any distraction for our wonderful teachers, classified employees, administrators and, of course, our students," she said.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.