Apr 1, 2022 - News

Philly names Tony Watlington as new schools superintendent

Tony B. Watlington Sr.
Photo courtesy of the School District of Philadelphia

Tony B. Watlington is the new superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

Driving the news: Watlington, who beat out two other finalists for the post, will begin a five-year term on June 16 leading the 200,000-student district, school officials revealed on Friday.

  • He'll earn $340,000 annually, and his contract has a one-year renewal option.
  • He takes over for William Hite, who has led the district for the past decade. Hite will become CEO of the education nonprofit KnowledgeWorks after the school year ends.
  • He'll continue to serve as superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School District in North Carolina through the end of the school year.

Between the lines: Watlington, a North Carolina native and former history teacher, has led smaller and less diverse school districts than Philadelphia’s — which has a majority-Black student population and a budget of more than $3 billion.

  • He pledged to "get out and be very visible and learn Philadelphia," saying that building trust and transparency is critical.
  • His top goals include grasping the district’s many facilities challenges, which include asbestos and lead issues in its old buildings, and working to "significantly improve academic achievement."

What they're saying: School board president Joyce Wilkerson said Watlington has a track record of closing student achievement gaps, working in partnership with diverse communities and delivering equity in education.

  • "Dr. Watlington is the right person to lead the work ahead and ensure every child has the opportunities and supports they deserve and can reach their full potential," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

What’s next: The Board of Education will take up Watlington’s contract at a meeting on Thursday.

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