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The city's deputy superintendent for operations would go to work near Pittsburgh.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
One of Roanoke’s top school leaders has been selected for a superintendent position in Pennsylvania.
Curt Baker, Roanoke City Public Schools deputy superintendent for operations, has been selected as the new superintendent of the Moon Area School District.
The Moon Area School Board voted Monday to hire Baker. He will begin a four-year term on a date to be determined.
Baker first joined the Roanoke school system in 2007. At that time he followed Superintendent Rita Bishop to the Star City from Lancaster, Pa. Bishop was returning to the division after having the top schools job in Lancaster and recruited Baker to come along.
“I will say this is a really bittersweet situation. I love it here,” Baker said Wednesday. “It’s hard. I will cherish the working relationships and the friendships I have developed here.”
Before his time in Roanoke, Baker was the chief financial officer for the Lancaster system. He also previously served as school board president for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District in Pennsylvania.
“A lot of my experience has been in Pennsylvania. I am familiar with the state,” he said, but added the location was not the reason for taking the job. “When all is said and done I think it comes down to the people you’ll be working with. I think there is a really nice chemistry with the board members. I think one of the things that drew me to Roanoke in the first place was Roanoke’s emphasis on education in the community. I think this community shares the same set of values.”
When Baker will begin work and what his compensation will be weren’t clear Wednesday. Baker, who said he was approached about the position, said he has not signed a contract and his appointment is still subject to state approval. Officials from Moon could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Baker is another in a string of high profile departures of Roanoke school system administrative staff in recent months. The system has a new assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, a new executive director for K-5 education and a new executive director for student support services.
During his tenure in Roanoke, Baker has overseen millions of dollars’ worth of capital projects. Alongside Bishop he worked to reconcile a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall in 2010. He also led contract negotiations to successfully outsource the system’s transportation services.
In Pennsylvania he will be at the helm of a 3,700-student system that employs 487 staff members. The high-performing division outside Pittsburgh is bordered to the north by the Ohio River and to the south by the Pittsburgh International Airport, which plays a large role in the area’s economy.
It will be the first time Baker has held a school system’s top job, something he said has been a goal.
“As you look at your career the opportunity to become superintendent of a school system has been a personal career aspiration,” he said. “That is a wonderful next step for me personally. I think there’s a wonderful fit with the school system I’m going to.”
Baker, who is not a career educator, has a bachelor’s degree from University of Southern California in economics, sociology and international relations. He also has a master’s degree in economics, political analysis and international law from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
How Roanoke will move to fill Baker’s role is unclear. A system spokesman said Bishop will not talk about plans to replace Baker until the details of his new position are final.
School officials did confirm Monday that Jeff Shawver, Roanoke’s building commissioner, has been hired to become the system’s chief of physical plants. Justin McLeod, a spokesman for Roanoke schools, said the new position was indirectly related to the possibility of Baker leaving.
Baker said Wednesday he couldn’t speculate about how long it might be until his contract with Moon is completed.
Looking back on his time in Roanoke, Baker said he is proud to have been part of a team that accomplished so much, citing the school system’s increase in graduation rate and its sound financial footing.
“I really do love Roanoke,” he said. “I’m sad to leave. I’m proud of what we accomplished. There’s still a great deal more to do.”
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