2021 | Schools

MCPS superintendent candidates expected by January

District plans virtual meetings in coming weeks to ‘gather community input’

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A list of candidates for superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools is expected to be presented to the school board in early January, according to a website advertising the position.

MCPS is looking for a replacement for former Superintendent Jack Smith, who retired in the spring after leading the district for five years.

His second-in-command, Monifa McKnight, has stepped in as interim superintendent through the end of June. She has said she plans to apply for the permanent position.

The job posting gives basic facts about the school system’s size and budget, and talks at length about the district’s commitment to “addressing disparities in student outcomes by closing gaps in opportunity and achievement for all students, in all classrooms, in all of our schools.”

In a list of 16 “recent accomplishments,” the posting details students’ performance on recent AP and SAT tests, and various recognitions for its programs.

The listing does not detail preferred qualifications or experience of potential candidates.

When the job was first posted, it contained outdated information. It listed the school district’s enrollment as “more than 165,000 students,” and said its budget totals $2.6 billion.

The listing was corrected on Thursday afternoon to include the district’s correct enrollment of 160,000 students and operating budget of $2.8 billion.

It also removed a reference to MCPS being the 14th largest district in the country.

In a press release on Wednesday, the district wrote that it will hold three meetings to “gather community comment on the educational priorities and desired leadership qualities of the next superintendent.”

The virtual meetings will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 30 and at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 and Nov. 10.

There is also an online survey for people to submit comments.

Over the past 30 years, since 1991, MCPS has had four superintendents, not including those who were interim replacements. Before Smith, Joshua Starr served for four years, Jerry Weast for 12 years and Paul Vance for eight years.

MCPS has used the same search firm — Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) — for its past four superintendent searches.

The school board in August approved a contract with HYA to lead the search for Smith’s replacement. The contract is for $52,500, plus “travel expenses as appropriate and other optional additional services as requested by the board.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com