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Palm Beach Joins List of Urban School Districts Looking for Superintendents

Add Palm Beach County to the list of school districts that will be looking for a new superintendent this year.

Wayne Gent, superintendent of the 180,000-student district, announced this week that he will not return when his contract expires on June 30, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Gent, 60, who has been superintendent since February 2012, said he was leaving to pursue other opportunities.

On average, urban superintendents don't stay on the job for a very long time, according to a survey from the Council of the Great City Schools released late last year.

The average tenure of a big-city superintendent— a job the council called "one of the most important and challenging jobs in America's education system"—was 3.18 years, a slight decrease from 2010, but still higher than 2003 when the average was 2.8 years. (Eighty-percent of the council's 66 districts responded to the survey last year.)

Twenty-one percent of the superintendents had been in their positions for five or more years, while 57 percent of the respondents had been in office for one to five years, according to the survey.

With Gent's pending departure, Palm Beach will join Albuquerque and Minneapolis among other big-city districts that will be looking for new leaders this year. Gent was Palm Beach's third superintendent in four years, according to the paper.  

Gent, who received an "effective" rating from the school board during his last performance review but was still criticized for his communication and leadership style, told the paper that his decision to move on had nothing to do with the board.

He told the Palm Beach Post that he was leaving the district on good footing.

In grading Gent, the paper said that the district's state rating had dropped from an A to a B—similar to Miami-Dade and Broward counties. However, the district had the highest graduation rate among urban districts in the state, according to the paper.

"I think the district is in a solid place right now and I have other goals I'd like to pursue at this time,"  he told the paper.  "Our graduation rate continues to outpace those of other large urban [districts], we just successfully passed our referendum ... I've strengthened and built community relations."

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