Prince George's County School Superintendent Leaves for Philly Schools

Gale Horton Gay | 7/3/2012, 1:06 p.m.

William Hite Jr. Praised for his Work in County

The new school year will have a different level of anticipation for William R. Hite Jr. who will leave the post he's held for six years as superintendent of Prince George's County public schools to serve as the head of the City of Brotherly Love's school system.

Hite turned in his resignation to the Prince George's school board on June 29.

A statement from the school board said, in part, that Hite has "led Prince George's County schools with vision and innovation under financial challenges that might have broken a weaker superintendent. We appreciate the stability, progress, transparency and accountability that accompanied his tenure. The foundation for future success is firmly in place thanks in large part to his efforts."

Local school officials asked the community to join them in wishing Hite "the very best in his new post and extending sincere appreciation for all that he helped us to accomplish in Prince George's County."

Hite said the decision to leave Prince George's County for Philadelphia wasn't an easy one and that he would be leaving behind "treasured friends and colleagues" as well as "beautiful, talented and hardworking students."

"Together, we have shared many successes during my six years here," Hite said. "I could not have asked for a more supportive Board of Education, more eager students, or more dedicated teachers, administrators and staff. I thank you for embracing my vision for Prince George's County public schools and for the role that you played in making that vision a reality."

Hite's contract contains a 120-day notice provision. The school board said they would work during the next four months on a transition plan to "ensure a smooth start" to the school year. In the weeks ahead, the Board of Education will decide on an interim superintendent and the selection process for Hite's successor.

However Hite's departure may put Prince George's school officials in a difficult position. The person next-in-command - deputy superintendent Bonita Coleman-Porter - announced her resignation in June. Her last day with the system was July 2. She's headed to Mississippi to be the superintendent of a school system there.

Since 1999, Prince George's County has had five superintendents - Hite having served the longest.

The interim or new superintendent will oversee the system's $1.66 billion operating budget that was approved by the school board on June 28. That budget, for the 2013 fiscal year that began July 1, is 3 percent higher than the 2012 budget and includes employee pay raises.

Hite, 51, one of two finalists for the position, addressed 300 members of the Philadelphia community at nine meetings on June 25, said Philadelphia schools spokesman Fernando Gallard. Pedro Martinez, deputy superintendent of the Clark County School District in Nevada, was the other finalist.

Philadelphia public schools, the eighth largest school district in the nation, has approximately 146,000 students, 20,382 employees and 249 schools, the school system's website states. It began its search process in January and by May had received 100 applications or nominations, according to a news release. The search committee interviewed 11 candidates in May - five from Philadelphia -and arrived at Hite and Martinez.

The vacancy was created when Philadelphia's school superintendent Arlene Ackerman stepped down last August. Ackerman held the post since March 2008. Ackerman previously served as superintendent of D.C. public schools for three years and resigned in 2000.

Hite, who receives a salary of $250,000 in his current position, was named superintendent of Prince George's public schools in 2009 after serving as interim superintendent since December 2008. Previously he served as deputy superintendent.