Joshua Starr was officially appointed the next MCPS Superintendent by the MCPS Board of Education (BOE) on May 10. Starr visited Montgomery County to sign the Superintendent's Contract on May 11. According to BOE President Christopher Barclay, Starr will begin his tenure as superintendent on July 1. Starr will replace Jerry Weast, the current MCPS Superintendent.
Starr will visit Montgomery County again between June 14 and June 16, when he will meet with several community members and organizations. The exact times and groups have not yet been determined.
According to Starr, he does not plan on making drastic changes in MCPS, and will spend his first few months learning about the area and community. "I intend to meet with administrators, principals, teachers, parents, students, and as many people as I can to familiarize myself with the culture and share with people their concerns, and hopes and dreams. I wasn't hired on a mandate for change, and that gives me the opportunity to learn about the school system," he said.
Starr will come to MCPS, which serves approximately 144,000 students, after six years as the superintendent of Stamford Public Schools (SPS) in Stamford, CT, a school district that serves approximately 15,000 students. During his tenure in Stamford, Starr created a common curriculum for all SPS schools and advanced standardized test scores, according to Parent Teacher Council of Stamford President Wendy Lecker.
Despite Stamford's relatively small population, Starr expressed confidence regarding his ability to transition into MCPS. "The size difference is certainly obvious, but the approach and strategy are very similar. In Stamford, we've modeled ourselves after what you all have done down there, and I've familiarized myself with your method. The biggest challenge for me will be getting to know people as quickly as possible and engaging with people throughout the community,"he said.
Starr also credited his past job experience as preparation for leading a large school district. "Before Stamford, I was the Director of School Performance and Accountability in New York City, and that work was about designing a system to measure performance across 1.1 million kids, so I understand the size. I think I'm ready,"he said.
Weast was also optimistic about Starr's appointment, expressing hopes for community receptiveness. "I think Dr. Starr will do well. He was carefully selected, and he's a caring person. I hope the county shows him the same love they showed me,"he said.
BOE Member Patricia O'Neill, the only remaining member of the BOE that chose Weast for the superintendent post in 1999, identified Starr's modernness and awareness as traits that distinguished him from his competitors. "He seemed in touch with the 21st century, with technology and with our vision as a school system,"she said. Barclay agreed with O'Neill, adding that Starr's skills will help him lead MCPS in a tough financial situation.
Barclay also expressed his hope that Starr will carry on some of Weast's accomplishments, including a focus on educational equity and a willingness to talk about race.
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