The selection not only will have significant implications for the school system but for the overall future of Prince George’s, which has struggled to attract businesses and retain residents in part because of its historically troubled school system.
“It is very important that we get the right person in there,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who plans to play a role in the selection. “We are making strides in every other area — public safety, transforming neighborhoods and building a regional health-care facility. . . . We have had progress with our schools, but this is the one area where we need to accelerate the progress.”
Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the search company contracted to identify and screen candidates, has met with members of the community and stakeholders to discuss the type of superintendent they would like the board to hire. The company will present its findings to the board at a public meeting Dec. 13, and a list of candidates will be announced and interviewed in the spring. The board is expected to name a new school chief by July.
Many involved in the process said they want a leader who can provide stability.
“We do not want to see somebody who will stay here two or three years,” said Jacqueline Brown, executive director of the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center, who participated in a recent forum with leaders of nonprofit groups, clergy and community associations. “Stay here 10 years. We keep turning over, turning over and turning over.”
Brown added: “I hope we get someone who is prepared to grow old here. [Former Montgomery County superintendent] Jerry D. Weast influenced kids from first grade to graduation. That’s an amazing thing.”
Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s branch of the NAACP, agreed, saying the community wants “someone who will make a commitment for the long haul.”
The county is in its fourth superintendent search in less than a decade. Five superintendents, including Hite, have run the school system in a permanent or acting capacity since 1999.
Hite had one of the longest tenures of the five. He joined the county in June 2006 as deputy superintendent and took over as interim chief after John E. Deasy left in 2008.
With one year left on his four-year contract, Hite announced his resignation in July. His departure came on the heels of the resignation of the deputy superintendent, which meant the county had no natural successor. Since then, the director of personnel, general counsel and chief financial officer have left the system. The director of transportation had left earlier this year.