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Emanuel appoints former principal to school board, moves Sierra to CHA

Rodrigo Sierr  | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Rodrigo Sierra | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 20, 2012 6:25AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday tapped former Chicago Public School Principal Carlos Azcoitia to serve as a Chicago School Board member, replacing Rodrigo Sierra, who is moving to the Chicago Housing Authority Board.

The school board appointment means that two former CPS principals — Azcoitia and Mahalia Hines — will be voting on what could be the closure of scores of schools as the system begins to “right-size’’ the nation’s third-largest school district. CPS officials say they have roughly 100,000 more seats than students.

The shift follows the announcement that Carlos Ponce is “stepping down’’ as a member of the CHA Board of Commissioners, according to a Sunday City Hall news release. Ponce was reappointed to that post in 2012, under Emanuel, and had served on the CHA board since 2003, according to the CHA website. He also served as the CHA’s interim CEO for four months in 2011.

Azcoitia was the founding principal of John Spry Elementary Community School, which opened in 2003 in Little Village with the unique mission of offering a pre-kindergarten through high school program in one building.

Azcoitia, a former seventh- and eighth-grade teacher, also served from 1996 to 2003 as deputy chief of education at Chicago Public Schools and as part of the system’s top management team. From 2011 to 2012, he oversaw and supported 36 schools in his role as interim chief of the district’s Midway Network.

Emanuel tapped Azcoitia to replace Sierra, who was among the seven school board members initially appointed by Emanuel in April 2011. Sierra is senior vice president and chief communications and marketing officer of the American Medical Association.

Emanuel singled out Azcoitia’s in-the-trenches and wide-ranging school experience in announcing his appointment by news release Sunday.

“For over 30 years, Carlos has dedicated his career to helping students succeed, as a teacher, principal and administrator, and the breadth of his experience makes him uniquely qualified for this role on the Board of Education,” Emanuel’s news release said. “His years working directly with students, teachers and principals bring an invaluable perspective to the Board and I know he will use his expertise and his unwavering commitment to the students of Chicago to be a strong advocate for their success.”

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