By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Jan. 14 — On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Wendy Gonzalez sent out a message to faculty and staff that she would be stepping down in June as superintendent of Page County Public Schools.
“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’s message stated. ” Therefore, I wanted to let everyone know that I will be leaving Page County at the end of this school year. “
The Page County School Board unanimously appointed Dr. Gonzalez and signed her contract on May 31, 2018. The three-year agreement officially went into affect on July 1, 2018 and runs through June 30, 2021.
Dr. Gonzalez gave no further reasons for her decision to not seek renewal of the contract and continue her role as superintendent.
“It has been an honor to serve as Superintendent of PCPS. I have so enjoyed living in Page County surrounded by all the gorgeous mountain views, good people, and good communities,” Dr. Gonzalez’s Jan. 13 message stated. “I will be taking many wonderful memories with me. What a pleasure [it] is has been to work alongside great people. I have personally witnessed so many who work tirelessly in order to impact students’ lives for good.”
The school board has issued no public statement regarding yesterday’s announcement; however, the apparent timeline and goal would be to have a new superintendent in place by July 1.
In both 2012 and 2018, the local school board partnered with the Virginia School Board Association to find a new superintendent — producing Dr. Donna Power in 2012, and Dr. Wendy Gonzalez in 2018. When Dr. Power resigned in August 2014, the local school board looked internally and hired within, unanimously approving Donna Whitley-Smith as superintendent of schools. Smith signed a three-year deal running through 2017, and then received a one-year renewal.
When Dr. Gonzalez arrived in 2018, she brought 23 years of experience and beat out a final pool of 27 candidates from seven different states during a five-month search. She began her career as a teacher in Rockingham County before holding administrative roles in education in Chesterfield County, Charles City County and James City County.
Upon her hire as superintendent in Page County, Dr. Gonzalez received an annual base salary of $140,000. The county also agreed to pay the superintendent’s total premium for health insurance, the maximum amount allowed by law to the Virginia Retirement System, $10,000 in moving expenses and $1,000 per month for three months to help with relocation expenses.
While some speculate that the school board may look inward once again to fill the superintendent role, there has been no public indication of how the school board will go about finding a new leader for the division.
Dr. Gonzalez gave no indication in yesterday’s notice of seeking another position in education. In addition to emphasizing a desire and need to spend more time with family, the superintendent also acknowledged the more than 600-plus employees that truly drive the local school division.
“I will be forever thankful for the relationships I’ve made with our central office team, with administrators, with faculty and staff, with families and students, and within the community,” Dr. Gonzalez stated. “I am proud to have been a part of Page County Public Schools, and I look forward to seeing all the great things that will continue to evolve in the future.”