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Superintendent Changes on the Way in Philly, Memphis

If it's summer, it must be time for the annual migration of school superintendents. Here's some changes coming to some big districts:

Philadelphia has narrowed its choices for superintendent down to two candidates: William R. Hite Jr., chief since 2009 in the 124,000-student Prince George's, Md., district in suburban Washington; and Pedro Martinez, who was hired last May to be the deputy superintendent of instruction in Clark County, Nev., the district that includes Las Vegas. Martinez is also a finalist for the superintendent's job in Washoe County, Nev., which was recently vacated when former chief Heath Morrison left to head the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., district this April.

The Washington Post notes that Hite's tenure has brought a welcome stretch of stability to Prince George's County schools. The district has seen rising test scores over his time in office. Martinez, who has not been a teacher or a principal, has nonetheless been instrumental in bringing several changes to the Clark County district, according to the Las Vegas Sun, including an initiative to encourage high school dropouts to return to school.

It's still up in the air who will lead the unified Memphis/Shelby County school system in Tennessee, but we now know it won't be Kriner Cash, currently the superintendent of the 103,000-student Memphis district. Cash's contract expires in August, the same time the unified district would begin operations, and the 23-member unified board voted June 19 not to renew his contract. As I mentioned in a recent story, Cash's contract mandated that he be given six months' notice of nonrenewal, but some members of the board said they thought consideration of his contract was premature. John Aitken, currently the superintendent of the 47,000-student Shelby County district, remains in place; a motion to not renew his contract, which expires in 2015, failed.

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