Montgomery County launched a national search for a new schools chief Tuesday, hiring an outside firm to coordinate the effort one week after officials announced Superintendent Joshua P. Starr would be stepping down.
Starr was up for a four-year contract but did not win support from a majority of the eight-member school board, according to county officials who spoke to The Washington Post. Starr’s last day in school offices is Friday; his resignation takes effect Monday, a holiday.
The school board on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the firm involved in Montgomery’s last two superintendent searches, which took place in 1999 and 2011.
District officials said the firm has also been part of searches in 14 of the nation’s 25 largest school districts and locally in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Under the Montgomery contract, the firm will be paid $35,000 and reimbursed for expenses.
School Board President Patricia O’Neill said at the meeting the school board has not changed its purposes as its superintendents change.
The board has “a clear set of values” and remains “as committed as ever” to closing the achievement gap and educating the whole child, through academics, creative problem-solving and social-emotional learning, she said.
“While we are changing superintendents, we are not changing our values, vision and mission,” she said.
O’Neill said Wednesday that in coming weeks school officials would be seeking input from across Montgomery County — through forums, focus groups and an online survey — about what is needed in a new superintendent.
“We want to hear from the community,” she said
Larry A. Bowers, the school system’s chief operating officer for the last 16 years, will take over as interim superintendent next week and serve until June 30.
Board leaders hope a permanent successor in place by July 1. Starr will be paid through the end of his contract, June 30.