Above, Austin Beutner holds his first news conference since his selection as superintendent of L.A. Unified. (Photo by Tony Perez)

School Board President Mónica García joins newly appointed Superintendent Austin Beutner and Belmont High School junior Kenia Araujo. Click on the photo to watch a KLCS-TV video of the event.

Declaring “the classroom is where the magic happens,” newly appointed Superintendent Austin Beutner pledged Wednesday to tackle L.A. Unified’s financial challenges, improve academic achievement and lead the District in ensuring the best possible education for all students.

The philanthropist and former investment banker spoke for about 15 minutes at a news conference held at Belmont High School – his first public appearance since being named Tuesday to lead the nation’s second-largest school district. He admitted that his selection was unconventional, but said his experience in leading complex organizations has prepared him to address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in L.A. Unified. He emphasized the work ahead must be done in collaboration with families, employees, labor partners, civic groups, business organizations and elected officials from across the region.

“The commitment to change, the commitment to a better education for our community and the children in our community has to embrace everybody in Los Angles – not just those with kids in L.A. Unified and not just those who work for L.A. Unified,” he said.

“My commitment to the students of L.A. Unified is to make sure everything we do – and I do – is with your best interest in mind. My challenge to each and every one of the students in L.A. Unified is to become active and engaged in this effort because our community of students are our future. You are the future of our community.”

The news conference also included School Board President Mónica García, Board Vice President Nick Melvoin and leaders from the California Community Foundation and California Endowment.

Click here to watch a video of the entire event.