SAN JOSE, Calif. - He's one of the longest serving superintendents in the district's history. But now Chris Funk of the East Side Union High School District in San Jose is resigning. He believes there needs to be new leadership to overcome some serious obstacles.
In the midst of a pandemic, Chris Funk didn't want to step down.
But with a big budget deficit in the East Side Union High School District, and a growing divide between the school board and unions, he felt he had no choice.
"We're at an impasse right now. And the unions have made it very clear that I'm the obstacle. So okay, I'll remove the obstacle. Now put your money where your mouth is and come to the table and lets try to solve it," says Funk.
The deficit is about $50 million over 3 years, in part a result of increasing costs, but declining enrollment.
"It's always going to be the elephant in the room that gets in the way of us discussing other important things like social justice," says Funk.
For now, Funk is focused on starting the school year. Phase 1 will be distance learning, though some of the most underserved students will be allowed on campus to use technology.
A partnership with the city of San Jose will also help by providing expanded wifi.
"We've got a lot to do this year. And my number one priority is to guide the district through this pandemic, keeping our staff, students and families safe," he says.
The school board released a statement today thanking Funk for his service and commending his work "especially in the areas of equity and addressing education and opportunity gaps."
And while Funk is resigning, he says he's not retiring yet.
"I'm not going to limit what my next location will be, although my family is all in San Jose. I've got another 7 years to work so I will keep my options open," he says.
Funk plans to help with the transition to a new superintendent. He'll stay at least a few more months, though possibly until the end of the school year depending on how long the search process takes.