The Socorro school board has chosen Nate Carman, the leader of the San Benito school district in South Texas, as its next superintendent.

Carman was named lone finalist Monday by a 5-0-1 vote of the Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees. Trustee Cynthia Najera was absent. Trustee Paul Guerra abstained, citing his absences during some of the applicant interviews.

Carman has been superintendent of the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District in the Rio Grande Valley since 2017. That district has just over 10,000 students while Socorro ISD has about 47,000.

“I was drawn to Socorro ISD based on the reputation as an innovative, highly-successful school district,” Carman said Monday. He said he was “excited and humbled” to lead Socorro ISD and said he is hopeful his experience boosting student achievement and improving district finances in another border district will translate well to El Paso County.

Carman is not bilingual, something trustees identified as a preferred qualification in the job posting. He has a doctorate, which was another preferred qualification.

Board President David Morales said Carman’s experience “spoke for itself,” describing the incoming superintendent as highly qualified.

Nate Carman, the lone finalist named in Socorro Independent School District’s superintendent search, greets community members and educators on Monday night. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Carman began his career in Farmington, New Mexico, teaching high school math and physics. He then taught high school math in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD outside Dallas before taking on assistant principal and principal roles in Lewisville and Wilmer Hutchins ISDs, and an administrator position in South Grande Prairie ISD.

He was an assistant superintendent in Pine Tree ISD and superintendent of Teague ISD.

Trustees must wait 21 days per state law before offering Carman a contract. Carman said he expects to begin in Socorro soon after the board approves his contract.

Socorro ISD has been without a permanent superintendent since May 2021, when José Espinoza resigned after some members of the school board’s majority voting faction lost their reelection bids. Espinoza was paid close to $630,000 as part of his separation agreement, equivalent to one year’s salary and benefits.

Trustees tapped the district’s Internal Auditor Marta Carmona to serve as interim while they searched for Espinoza’s replacement.

Cover photo: Nate Carman, the lone finalist named in Socorro Independent School District’s superintendent search, answers questions after the Board of Trustees’ announcement on Monday night. The Board must wait 21 days to offer Carman a contract. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Molly Smith has been a reporter for the El Paso Times and The (McAllen) Monitor. She’s covered education, criminal justice and local government. A Seattle native, she’s lived in Texas since 2014.