Philly school board narrows list of candidates for next superintendent

Twenty one percent of qualified candidates have leadership experience in the School District of Philadelphia.

School District of Philadelphia headquarters

School District of Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Board of Education has narrowed its pool of candidates vying to become the next city superintendent.

After connecting with more than 400 leaders with the help of the search firm Isaacson Miller, the board has been whittling down the list to “qualified and inspiring” candidates who meet its criteria, according to a statement released Monday.

The board won’t say how many candidates remain, describing the process as “fluid.”

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Superintendent William Hite, who has led the School District of Philadelphia for a decade, plans to step down at the end of the academic year. He was recently named the next CEO and president of KnowledgeWorks, a national education non-profit.

In its statement, the school board provided some information about its current candidate pool:

  • 64.29% identify as Black, 14.29% as Hispanic, and 7.14% as white. 14.29% chose not to identify.
  • 42.86% are from the Northeast, 14.29% from the South, 28.57% from the Midwest, 7.14% from the Southwest, and 7.14% from the West
  • 21.4% self-identified as women and 71.4% as men
  • 21% have leadership experience in the School District of Philadelphia

All of the candidates have some form of experience working in education and with “diverse communities,” and all have led major organizations and institutions.

More than half of the candidates who are currently working in school administration are in districts that are similar to the School District of Philadelphia in terms of size and demographics.

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Some of the board’s criteria is based on public feedback from listening sessions and citywide surveys that took place throughout the fall.

“I’m excited about the public engagement we’ve had and want the public to know that we’re really respecting the input that was provided,” board president Joyce Wilkerson said.

The board will present five or more top candidates to the superintendent search advisory committee in the next month or so, and then narrow those down to finalists, who will be presented at public forums in March.

The board plans to name the next superintendent this spring.

While the hope is to bring that person in before Hite starts his new job on July 1, the board recognizes there may be a brief need for an interim superintendent.

“Depending on what kind of flexibility the incoming superintendent has, we’ll determine what kind of need we have to have somebody just hold down the fort for a period of five, six weeks,” Wilkerson said.

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