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Superintendent search continues, with a goal of hiring by July

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Nearly seven months after Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s tumultuous departure, the School District in March issued a job description and added three members to the search committee charged with finding her permanent replacement.

Interviewing for the position is expected to begin in April. Candidates will be accepted until at least May 15.

School Reform Commission member Wendell Pritchett, who chairs the search committee, has repeatedly stated that the committee "will not rush" the process of finding a new District leader. But he said he is "cautiously optimistic" about sticking to the initial timeline of filling the position by July.

Pritchett said there have been many responses to an invitation to nominate candidates.

The position is now called "Superintendent/CEO." The five-page job description includes 11 "educational leadership criteria." It emphasizes "experience building and leading successful teams in a large, complex and diverse organization" and does not require the candidate to have an education background.

"The next Superintendent/CEO should be characterized more as the ‘head coach’ rather than the ‘star’ of the leadership team," the job description says.

The job description reflects public input from a series of forums held across the city in February, organized by the Penn Project for Civic Engagement and United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Pritchett described the meetings as "helpful in honing in on what the issues are."

Themes from these meetings that were incorporated into the job description include sensitivity to equity issues, understanding of the city’s diversity, responsiveness to students and families, commitment to transparency and openness, and appreciation that school success requires more than just good test scores.

The latest additions to what is now a 14-member search committee are the Rev. Albert Campbell of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Patricia DeCarlo of the Norris Square Civic Association, and Len Rieser of the Education Law Center. All five SRC members serve on the committee.

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