On his first day, new schools chief begins with fact-finding

William R. Hite Jr. aims for a Jan. 2 report.
William R. Hite Jr. aims for a Jan. 2 report.
Posted: September 21, 2012

For William R. Hite Jr., the clock started ticking Wednesday.

It was the new Philadelphia schools chief's first day on the job full-time, the first day of fact-finding for a plan he said he would release Jan. 2.

Hite said he would spend the next 90 days crisscrossing the city, visiting classrooms and churches, talking to students and parents and community members - anyone with a stake in the Philadelphia School District.

He will make visits to Harrisburg and to City Council and the mayor's office. He'll look at the district's finances and operations.

"Once I learn all that information, it's important to make very public what I intend to do about it, and then say what individuals can do to hold me accountable about it," he said in an interview.

Hite is well aware that there's an overabundance of plans already out there - strategies about safety and governance and operations, a controversial deep-dive analysis done by the Boston Consulting Group, even a five-year plan recently adopted by the School Reform Commission. He wants to study them all, and come up with a document that helps make plain what he will focus on as superintendent.

Hite has been in town a few days a week all summer, as he transitioned out of his job as head of the Prince George's County, Md., school system. He has met with many people who have opinions about Philadelphia schools.

What's on people's minds?

"Making sure that all students have high-quality seats," Hite said. "I think that's something that I've heard over and over again. Ensuring that students are safe and secure. Really making sure that we do a better job in engaging the public."

Hite, who spent his first day in meetings at district headquarters, said that he knew the task ahead was daunting, but that he was happy to roll up his sleeves.

"I'm excited that I'm not off after a certain time of day to board a train," he said. "Now I feel like I have my feet on the ground and here permanently. I'm excited about that."


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

|
|
|
|
|