In one of its last actions as the Philadelphia School District's governing body, the School Reform Commission gave its superintendent a glowing report card, hailing William R. Hite Jr.'s "excellent leadership" in an evaluation released Thursday.
If the SRC's distinguished-to-failing scale was the same as a traditional letter-grade system, Hite would have received four A's and two B;s for the 2017-18 school year.
He earned top marks for systems leadership; operations and financial management; communications and community relations; and professionalism. He was "proficient," the second-highest grade, for human resources management and student growth and achievement.
It was his best evaluation to date. Hite became Philadelphia's schools chief in 2012, and is now one of the longer-tenured schools chiefs in modern Philadelphia history. Both the departing SRC and the school board that will replace it next month have made it clear that his steady hand in the 200,000-student system is one of the reasons they feel confident in the district's transition of governance.
Though city students have made progress, just 33 percent passed state exams in reading and 19 in math in the 2016-17 school year, up one percentage point from the prior year. State test results from the school year that just ended have not been released.
Hite has put a renewed focus on early literacy, and that has yielded gains.
"Under Dr. Hite's sound and stable guidance, the district has emerged from deeply challenging years, regained financial stability, returned to local control, and seen the beginning of district-wide academic growth," the four SRC members said in a statement, one of their final acts before the board dissolves this weekend. "Despite these notable gains, immediate and significant challenges remain. We thank Dr. Hite for continuing to approach these challenges head-on with the sustained urgency and dedication Philadelphia students deserve."
Despite the rosy report card, Hite gets no bonus. His contract specifies that his salary increases are tied to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' raises; because teachers will receive a salary increase, Hite will too. His salary will rise 1.9 percent, to $317,902.