Courtesy Photo

Van Nuys High School Principal Yolanda Gardea is joined by new LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner in a tour of the campus. Beutner visited several Valley area schools in his first day on the job.

Austin Beutner officially took over as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and he started his administration by taking a daylong tour of campuses and district facilities.

Beutner, 58, began his day shortly after 5 a.m. at a bus yard in Sun Valley. “I want to start with the people who do the work, trying to understand, do they have the tools they need,” Beutner told reporters as he toured the facility.

He went on to schools in Reseda and Northridge, then stopped at an automotive program at Van Nuys High School. While there he chatted with a variety of students and took a walk around its campus with Principal Yolanda Gardea. 

But one-day tours and chats won’t be enough for critics of Beutner who constantly harp on Beutner for his lack of experience in the education field and are wary that he may bring an agenda of cutting jobs and services as a reaction to the district’s declining budget and the growth of charter schools. 

The superintendent said the tour was an effort to reach out to district employees and see where improvements might be needed.

“My job is to make sure the resources are there, make sure they have all the tools they need to support these children and inspire them,” he said.

He also said he wants to make the nation’s second-largest school district accessible to the community, in particular by making the district’s budget understandable.“You’ll see in the coming weeks and months our attempt to make a little simpler some of the things we do to better engage the community, better engage the parents and understand where the money does go,” he said.

(City News Service contributed to this story)

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