Kevin Maxwell, Anne Arundel County’s superintendent, will become the new head of Prince George’s County schools, according to three sources familiar with the selection process, taking the reins at what officials hope is a turning point for the struggling school system.
Maxwell, 61, who has served in top administrative positions in Prince George’s and Montgomery County schools, would be the eighth schools chief in Prince George’s in 14 years.
He would come to Maryland’s second-largest school system as it undergoes a major overhaul, one that limits the role of a reconfigured Board of Education and places more power in the hands of the new superintendent, now known as the chief executive officer.
The selection of a chief executive is considered to be a key component of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III’s plan to turn around the school system, which performs poorly in comparison with most other districts in the state and in the Washington area, despite gains on standardized test scores in recent years.
Baker (D), who was given the authority to name the new schools chief during the past state legislative session, is expected to announce Maxwell’s selection at a news conference scheduled for Friday.
The three sources said Baker’s office informed them Wednesday afternoon that Maxwell was Baker’s choice. Baker’s office would not comment on the selection, and Maxwell could not be reached for comment.
Baker has described the school system as a liability to the county, holding back economic growth as people choose to live elsewhere in the region in part because other jurisdictions have better schools. Baker sought a complete takeover of the school system three months ago, but in a compromise bill, state lawmakers gave him the power to name the new chief, select three new members to the Board of Education and choose the board’s chair and vice chair.
Putting Maxwell in the job would ensure that Baker’s first schools chief was familiar with the county and the county’s schools, in addition to being a respected administrator with deep experience in Maryland.
Maxwell spent 22 years in Prince George’s as a teacher, a principal and the county’s chief educational administrator. He then served four years as the principal of Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda before being named a community superintendent for Montgomery County. He became superintendent in Anne Arundel County in 2006.
“If it is, in fact, Kevin Maxwell, then I think Mr. Baker has made an excellent choice,” said Doris Reed, who represents the county principals union. “He was an outstanding principal in the county, he has excellent people skills and he knows the Prince George’s school system.”
Maxwell’s roots in Prince George’s and Maryland are not just professional. He graduated from Bladensburg High School, and he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland at College Park and his PhD from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Bowie, and two of his children graduated from Bowie High School.
Fifty applicants were considered for the chief executive’s job during a nationwide search. Baker did not release the names of the three finalists, which caused some critics to question the transparency of the process.
Maxwell will replace former superintendent William R. Hite Jr., who left last year to become the superintendent in Philadelphia. Since then, the Prince George’s school system has been headed by an interim superintendent, Alvin Crawley, who recently signed a contract extension that runs through Aug. 30.