Superintendent Hite named next CEO of national education nonprofit

Dr. William Hite

Dr. William Hite, superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia, speaks at the announcement of the Inside Out art program, Edward Gideon Elementary School, on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

After a decade-long tenure as superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, William Hite will become the next CEO and president of the education non-profit KnowledgeWorks, effective July 1.

The national organization, which is based in Cincinnati, partners with school districts, state education departments, and education agencies to “imagine, build and sustain vibrant learning communities.”

Hite will remain in his current role as superintendent through the end of the school year, the Philadelphia Board of Education said in a statement on Friday.

“We are grateful for his continued leadership and service to the school district, and we support his ongoing efforts to ensure a safe and consistent school year for the children and families of Philadelphia,” Board President Joyce Wilkerson wrote. “Dr. Hite will be instrumental in the plan to onboard his successor, and we look forward to collaborating with him to support a smooth transition to a new superintendent.”

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Last fall, Hite announced his plans to step down as superintendent at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. He will leave the position after a tumultuous decade.

When Hite took over the position, the district was on the brink of insolvency, and he is credited with getting it back on solid financial footing. Under his leadership, the district was returned to local control after nearly two decades under the state-controlled School Reform Commission.

But he faced pushback for closing more than a dozen schools, and his tenure has been plagued by complaints about hazardous conditions inside schools, including asbestos and lead paint.

“Nothing is more important than ensuring that our nation’s children have a strong education, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my career to work toward that mission, particularly with the School District of Philadelphia,” Hite said in a press release from KnowledgeWorks announcing his new position. “I’m excited to take on a new challenge in this journey and look forward to working with the KnowledgeWorks team to deploy innovative education approaches that position students to thrive in college, career, and civic life.”

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The School Board of Philadelphia plans to share an update on its search for Hite’s successor on Monday.

At a board meeting Thursday night, vice president Leticia Egea-Hinton said candidate interviews are underway, and the board is on track to name a new superintendent this spring. The board will hold public forums with finalists in the coming months.

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