Montgomery Co. names its choice for new school superintendent

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County School Board has picked Dr. Jack Smith to become the new schools superintendent.

Thursday night, the board unanimously approved Smith’s conditional appointment to a four-year term to begin July 1.

Smith spoke at a news conference after the board’s vote.

“I certainly am excited, nervous, humbled, and very much looking forward to this opportunity and this effort to work on behalf of all children,” he said.

Right now, Smith is interim state superintendent of Maryland schools, and he is a former superintendent of Calvert County Public Schools.

He is 58 years old, and although he is from Washington state, his wife was born in Montgomery County.

They have five children, two of whom were adopted from Bulgaria.

Smith said he has already identified some problem areas in Montgomery County Public Schools.

“One of the things I noticed in your data is that you have quite a significant range — a distribution — of graduation rates across 25 schools. I think that’s something that I think we should talk about right away.”

But Smith said, as a new superintendent, he plans to address problems carefully.

“I think that it’s important that you not come in and take everything apart. I think you look, and you talk, and you listen, but you also look for short term successes.”

Smith called Montgomery County’s diversity “a gift,” and spoke about an issue he’s passionate about.

“I think everybody is extremely interested, as we all should be, in the disparities that exist for different student populations,” he said. “Frankly, I’m not really interested in working in a place that doesn’t want to address those disparities at this point in our society in this country. I think it’s critical. It’s the future of our community, our state and our society that we get this right.”

Smith’s appointment needs state approval, and a final contract still needs to be hammered out.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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