Philly superintendent finalists now can only await word

Posted: June 29, 2012

The two finalists for the Philadelphia School District superintendent's job have made their pitches to the community.

Now it's up to the School Reform Commission, which could decide as soon as this week, SRC member and search committee chairman Wendell Pritchett has said.

Since January, about 100 candidates applied or were suggested for the superintendent job; that pool was narrowed to about 11, then roughly five, and finally to two - William R. Hite Jr., superintendent of the Prince George's County, Md., district, and Pedro Martinez, the deputy superintendent in Clark County, Nev.

Five candidates were from Philadelphia, officials said, but job seekers were promised confidentiality unless they agreed to go public.

Both Martinez and Hite met parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and others in a daylong series of meetings. They faced questions on everything from charter schools to student safety.

Hite, 51, has a classroom background - he's been a teacher, principal, and central office staffer in Virginia, Georgia, and, most recently, Maryland. He's credited with bringing stability to a politically tough district of about 135,000 students.

Martinez, 42, was trained as an accountant but has worked as chief financial officer of the Chicago public school system and most recently overseen academics in Washoe County (Reno), Nev., and Las Vegas. Martinez helped boost graduation rates in both Nevada districts and closed big deficits in Chicago.

Philadelphia's ailing school system has been led since January by Thomas Knudsen, who was appointed to the temporary position of chief recovery officer by the SRC. Knudsen was tapped to help the district through an atrocious financial situation - it cut about $700 million in the 2011-12 school year and must borrow at least $218 million in 2012-13 to operate - and to entirely restructure its operations.

Knudsen's contract expires in late July.

Former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman left Philadelphia on bad terms last summer after collecting a $905,000 buyout, and the good-government group Committee of Seventy this week urged the SRC to avoid some of the mistakes the district made with Ackerman, and to make "broad parameters" of a new superintendent contract public before it is signed.

Pritchett, in response, said the SRC planned "to make this process as transparent as possible and will be releasing further information regarding the contract process in the near future."


Contact Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146, kgraham@phillynews.com or on Twitter @newskag. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at www.philly.com/schoolfiles.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|