Vallas: ‘I don’t rule anything out’

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Paul Vallas says he’s not going anywhere. At least not until June.
After that, he’s not saying.

Vallas, who has served as CEO since July 1995, says he’ll decide at
the end of the school year whether to stick around. He doesn’t rule out
the possibility of staying for several more years or the possibility of
running for governor in 2002.

“I don’t rule anything out,” he says, “because you can’t.” Asked about
a recent news report that Mayor Richard M. Daley has asked another candidate
to step aside to make room for Vallas, the normally voluble CEO says only,
“I don’t respond to that stuff. Otherwise, I’d be responding to something
every week. If I decide to run for something, I’ll announce it.”

He was clearly intrigued when members of President George W. Bush’s transition
team, including former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett, told
him he was being considered for Bennett’s old job at the White House.

“Yeah, I was on the short list,” he says in a mid-January interview,
shortly after Houston Schools Supt. Rod Paige was named as Bush’s choice
for the job. “I talked to Bennett again today, and he says I came ‘this
close’ to being selected. And if they would’ve offered me the job, I probably
would’ve taken it. Because it would’ve been a chance to do on a national
level what we’re doing here.”

Dan Weissmann