PCPS superintendent was finalist in Salt Lake City superintendent search

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Salt Lake finalists

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, April 9 — In early February, the Salt Lake City Board of Education selected Dr. Wendy Gonzalez as one of three finalist in its search for a new superintendent, according to two articles published by the Deseret News.

The Utah school division received a total of 33 applications from 19 states, according to the newspaper, and they announced on Feb. 10 that they had narrowed their search down to three. The search was facilitated by the executive search firm Ray and Associates, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The final decision was announced about two weeks later.

In mid-January, Dr. Gonzalez announced her intentions to not seek renewal of her three-year contract with Page County Public Schools, which began on July 1, 2018 and is set to expire on June 30, 2021.

“As you may know, I am an empty nester now with parents, children and grandchildren living in various locations and I would like to live closer to at least some of them,” Dr. Gonzalez stated in a letter to the school board and the community in January. ” Therefore, I wanted to let everyone know that I will be leaving Page County at the end of this school year. “

The other two finalists for the Salt Lake City superintendent position were Timothy Gadson III, a school administrator from Minnesota, and Jharrett Bryantt, an executive leader in the Houston Independent School District — the seventh largest school district in the U.S.

Melissa Ford, president of the Salt Lake City Board of Education, stated in a Feb. 10 address that the group had selected “three great finalist,” according to the Deseret News.

After initially participating in virtual interviews, all three finalists traveled to Salt Lake City for in-person interviews with the school board during the week of Feb. 15-19. The finalists also visited school facilities in the city and spoke with various stakeholders, such as administrators, teachers, parents and students, according to the newspaper report.

Dr. Gonzalez was introduced to the Salt Lake City Schools community as one of the three finalists for the position of superintendent through a Zoom interview that was later uploaded to YouTube:

On Feb. 23, the Deseret News reported that Gadson had been offered a two-year contract starting July 1 to become the superintendent of schools in Salt Lake City, making him the first black educator to lead a Utah school district, according to information the newspaper obtained from the Utah School Boards Association.

The Salt Lake City School District enrolls 21,460 students in K-12, with about 54 percent coming from low-income households and more than one third learning English as a second language. The Deseret News reported that “some 90 languages are spoken by families in the district.”

Dr. Gonzalez told Page Valley News on Friday that the Salt Lake City position interested her for several reasons.

“As I said, I am leaving [Page County] at the end of the school year to be near family,” Dr. Gonzalez stated. “I have family in both Utah (near Salt Lake City area) and Virginia (Northern and Central Virginia areas). Two of our four children and a daughter-in-law and grandchildren live near the SLC area.”

“I was drawn to the position for the chance to be near grandchildren, and I was also drawn to the diversity of the students within an urban school division,” she continued. “They have a large Hispanic population, and I have a lot of experience with the Hispanic culture and I am bilingual. Also, I felt my leadership style and skill sets would complement what they were looking for in their next leader. I was honored to be selected as a finalist after an exhaustive national search and enjoyed interviewing with them.”

The Page County superintendent, who has less than 90 days left on the job, said she is still seeking employment following her June 30 departure.

“I continue to explore educational leadership opportunities within other areas of Virginia as well that would put me closer to my other family members,” Dr. Gonzalez stated.   

The Page County School Board conducted a survey recently to see what qualities the community wanted in its next superintendent. A decision is anticipated within the next 10 weeks or so, in order to have a new superintendent in place by July 1.



School superintendent stepping down in June

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