MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith announced Thursday that he plans to retire in the spring. Credit: File photo

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith wants to continue to lead the 163,000-student system, he wrote in a letter Friday.

Smith wrote that he plans to request another contract from the Board of Education in a letter Friday afternoon addressed to “MCPS colleagues.”

In the same letter, Smith announced that Chief Academic Officer Maria Navarro and Chief Operations Officer Andrew Zuckerman are leaving the school system in June, at the end of the school year. Both will “pursue other leadership opportunities” Smith wrote in the letter.

Smith was hired in 2016 and has a four-year contract that runs out on June 30. He told Bethesda Beat in August that he would tell the board in January whether he wanted to remain in his position.

Smith’s salary is $290,000 and he receives 25 days of leave and 20 days of sick leave each year, according to his contract.

Board of Education member Judy Docca said in an interview Friday afternoon that she supports renewing Smith’s contract for another term. She said the board will take up the matter in February.

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Docca praised Smith for working closely with board members on the budget, adding counselors for English language learners and incorporating racial and ethnic diversity into the hiring process.

“These are things that I think are important,” she said.

Board members Brenda Wolff, Pat O’Neill, Rebecca Smondrowski and student board member Nate Tinbite all expressed support for Smith in August, before he made his announcement.

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Navarro has been with the school system since July 2014 and had a salary of $228,500 during the 2018-19 school year, according to MCPS salary list that Bethesda Beat obtained through a public records request in April.

Smith praised her in the letter for creating multiple dual immersion schools and implementing a new math and English curriculum in elementary and middle schools, among other accomplishments.

Zuckerman has been with MCPS since June 2013 and had a salary of $228,500 in 2018-19, according to the same salary list.

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Smith praised him for opening or revitalizing 10 schools, improving technology and bus security equipment, and bringing healthier food options to school cafeterias, among other accomplishments.

“I thank Dr. Zuckerman and Dr. Navarro for sharing their decisions with me early in the school year. This gives us the opportunity to have a smooth and strategic transition as we reimagine and rebuild our leadership structure,” he wrote.

It was not immediately clear when Navarro’s and Zuckerman’s successors would be hired, but Smith wrote that he would share his “vision for the future of the MCPS leadership team” next year.

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Docca said she was surprised by the news that Navarro and Zuckerman would be leaving.

“I think it’s going to be a loss. They’ve worked really heard to streamline their areas of expertise,” she said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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