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Supt. Hite to get 5-year contract extension

William R. Hite Jr., Philadelphia's schools superintendent since 2012, will get a five-year contract extension.

The resolution to extend Hite until August 31, 2022 was crafted by the School Reform Commission, which is expected to approve it officially Thursday, spokesman Fernando Gallard confirmed.

Hite's base pay, now $300,000, would remain the same, and provisions in the contract that allow for performance bonuses would be removed. The superintendent would only receive a pay increase if Philadelphia School District teachers do, and at the same rate they do.

SRC Chair Marjorie Neff, in a statement, said that it was the right time to lock in Hite long-term.

"It is crucial that we ensure leadership continuity in the School District of Philadelphia," Neff said. "Dr. Hite has demonstrated strong leadership through an extraordinarily difficult time, provided sound fiscal oversight and implemented a vision that builds on our school system's strengths with a focus on equity and high expectations."

One source close to the negotiations said that Commissioner Bill Green was particularly insistent on locking up Hite long-term, believing strongly that the the last thing a district beset by turmoil for the past several years needs is a leadership change.

"Someone comes in, they change the plan," the source said. "We have a plan, and Dr. Hite's never had the resources to implement it."

Hite was greeted with massive budget shortfalls from the moment he arrived, in 2012. He has had to oversee cuts and annual trips to City Council and Harrisburg to plug spending-plan holes.

School district leadership had hoped this would be the first year of stability and assured funds, but those money woes continue.

Hit hard by the continuing state budget impasse, the district recently had to borrow $250 million just to make payroll through the end of 2015.

Hite is generally well-regarded by city and state leadership, though City Council President Darrell L. Clarke had expressed some frustration with the district over the spring and summer.

Clarke had concerns about transparency and money paid to central-office administration. Lately, though, conditions between Council and the district seemed to have improved. Hite and the SRC have agreed to an intergovernmental data sharing deal and more say-so for Council, which seems to have placated Clarke.

Despite the district's money problems, Hite has pushed innovation and equity. He opened three new high schools in North Philadelphia last year and plans two more new schools in the fall, and has repeatedly called for stronger options for students in schools close to where they live.

But he has also drawn the ire of some education-watchers who say he has shut communities out, particularly in a recent move to charterize three struggling city schools. Others have protested his moves to outsource substitute teachers.

Gov. Wolf, in a statement, said that he has "visited many schools in Philadelphia with Superintendent Hite, and his enthusiasm toward his students and the mission of educational improvement is always refreshing. I look forward to continuing to work with him to improve schools and the education of children."