MCPS names new superintendent

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Dr. Jack R. Smith began his tenure as the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools on July 1 after serving as the Maryland interim state superintendent for 10 months. Smith replaced Joshua P. Starr, who lacked the board support he needed to win a new four-year contract.

Smith will earn a salary of $275,000 per year, and also will receive $40,000 in deferred compensation, as well as a contribution toward his retirement plan.

Smith’s career in education began as a teacher at Hanford Secondary School in Washington. Smith served three years as a middle and high school assistant principal and another four years as principal in Washington. In 1992, Smith and his family relocated to Tokyo where he served as the principal of the Christian Academy in Higashi Kurume, Tokyo. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1998, Smith worked as a middle school principal in Calvert County, Maryland. Calvert County Public Schools chose him as its superintendent in 2006, where he served for seven years. Smith was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year in 2013.

The MCPS superintendent job entails supervising all district operations in accordance with board policies, delegating appropriate powers and duties so that operational decisions can be made at various administrative levels, and establishing administrative regulations as needed to manage the district.

Since being named superintendent of MCPS, Smith has been visiting schools and meeting staff by riding along in an MCPS delivery truck.

“I’m excited to be here and I’m happy about the chance to see all of these schools…it’s an efficient way to see all [204 schools], and the new middle school that opens this fall,” Dr. Jack Smith said.

Student opinion throughout WJ has reflected the high hopes and promise of a new school year.

“I think the new superintendent has some great ideas for this school year and many to come. I am looking forward to seeing the changes he makes to our education system and hopefully he will give us more snow days,” sophomore Drew Skilton said.

Smith’s goal has always been to provide all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status with options and choices upon graduation.

“It is our responsibility as a school system to unite [all students] with a common thread of literacy, writing and mathematics skills that will give them the opportunity to succeed and options to pursue any path they choose in life,” Smith said.

Smith’s first discussion with the county council, Smith said he doesn’t believe a new curriculum is the way to narrow the achievement gap, when pressed about the long history of new approaches the school system has tried throughout the years.

“We don’t need every person to be a chemistry major or a British lit major. We need people who are well prepared by the end of middle school and then kids who can actually look at the world around them with the guidance of their families and the educators and the community at what’s available,” Smith said.

The school system needs to address the issues surrounding race and poverty and Smith said obstacles to achievement have to be overcome.

“My mother finished the 10th grade. My father finished the sixth grade. If that had been a barrier, folks, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” Smith said.

The $2.46 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017 provides $37.9 million of targeted funding that will allow MCPS to reduce class sizes in many classrooms across the district and accelerate efforts to close the achievement gap.

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