Philadelphia school board names 3 finalists for next superintendent

Superintendent William Hite greets students while wearing a face mask

File photo: Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite greeted students on their first day of school on Aug. 31, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Board of Education has named the three finalists to replace superintendent William Hite.

All three are men with educational experience. None have local ties.

The final candidates are John Davis, chief of schools for Baltimore City Public Schools, Krish Morship, deputy education officer for the Illinois State Board of Education, and Tony Watlington, superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools in North Carolina.

School board president Joyce Wilkerson and vice president Leticia Egea-Hinton announced the finalists on Friday afternoon.

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Each candidate will visit Philadelphia next week for live-streamed roundtables with students, parents, teachers, and principals, and town halls with the larger public that will be moderated by WHYY afternoon host Cherri Gregg.

The school board previously invited Philadelphia residents to nominate themselves to attend the smaller roundtables.

All of the meetings will be livestreamed on Facebook, and those interested in attending the town halls can register online.

Davis will visit the city on Monday, March 14, followed by Morship on Tuesday, March 15 and Watlington on Wednesday, March 16.

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The school board is aiming to make a final decision the following week.

“Each of the finalists are former educators and current education leaders,” Egea-Hinton said. “Each have led major educational institutions or organizations, and each have decades of experience working with and within diverse communities.”

Davis previously served as chief of schools in Washington, D.C., where he also worked as a middle school math teacher and high school principal.

Monhip led Youngstown City Schools in Ohio from 2016-2019, and held a variety of positions — including kindergarten teacher, principal, and chief of schools — in the Chicago public school system.

Watlington has also served as a teacher and principal, as well as chief of schools in Guilford County Schools, the third-largest district in North Carolina.

Last fall, thousands of Philadelphians provided feedback on what they want in the next superintendent, through listening sessions and surveys. Top priorities included an experienced educator and leader who values transparency, has worked with “diverse and multicultural communities,” and knows or is open to learning “how Philadelphia’s wheels turn.”

Hite is stepping down at the end of the school year, after a decade at the helm of Philadelphia’s public schools. He will go on to serve as CEO of the education nonprofit KnowledgeWorks, and as the first superintendent in residence at Yale University’s business school.

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