Superintendent Michael Hanson

Fresno Unified School District

Michael Hanson has been serving the Fresno Unified School District as superintendent since 2005.  He is responsible for leading California’s fourth largest school district and overseeing the academic performance of more than 73,000 students, as well as managing a $1 billion budget. Under his leadership, Fresno Unified School District has posted five straight years of improved academic performance.  He assembled and led a team that transformed the district’s finances from the brink of bankruptcy to stability with consecutive balanced budgets, a significant reserve to weather challenging budget times, one of the lowest central administrative ratios in the state, and consecutive unqualified audits.

His leadership is sought at the state and federal levels – he served as the lead superintendent for the State of California’s Race to the Top application and has provided insight and guidance on the Common Core Standards work.  He is active in the fight every day to ensure students have access to high-quality options upon graduation and has infused a system where equity and access is the backbone of all district work. Specifics of this work include:

  • Reestablished academic performance as the primary focus of the district by infusing millions of dollars into classroom support, hiring dozens of motivated principals and establishing performance targets for student achievement.
  • Enhanced the academic environment in schools by creating a system for positive behavioral support, increasing the number of guidance counselors, case managers and social workers and reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions.
  • Reduced over-crowding and improved the educational experiences for thousands of students by opening four new elementary schools, establishing new school boundaries and successfully converting year-round schools back to traditional calendar schedules.
  • Raised expectations for leadership by implementing a new hiring process, training program with Fresno State University and management evaluation process.
  • Improved support to schools by reorganizing four central-office departments and establishing partnerships with AT&T to build the largest fiber optic network in California north of Los Angeles and with Microsoft to provide office software for all district computers.

Prior to joining Fresno Unified, Hanson served as associate superintendent for Elk Grove Unified School in Sacramento County.  He is a San Joaquin Valley native who grew up in Dos Palos. He resides in Fresno with his wife and three children who attend Fresno schools. Superintendent Hanson attended college at UCLA where he earned a degree in Economics.  He went on to earn a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Certification in Educational Administration from Syracuse University.