School & District Management

Miami-Dade Board Woos Crew For Superintendent

By Jeff Archer — May 05, 2004 2 min read
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After an exhaustive national search for a superintendent, the Miami-Dade County school board last week offered the job to Rudolph F. Crew.

The 8-1 vote for Mr. Crew, a former chancellor of the New York City public schools, didn’t immediately end speculation about who will run the nation’s fourth-largest school district, however. School leaders in St. Louis said last week that they, too, were in negotiations to hire the 53-year-old administrator, who has been courted by several school systems in recent months.

Mr. Crew said through a spokeswoman last Thursday he had yet to decide which offer to accept.

Miami board members said they’d do whatever it takes to snare Mr. Crew, who was picked over Pedro Garcia, the superintendent of the Nashville, Tenn., schools; John Murphy, a former schools chief in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; and Eric J. Smith, the superintendent of the Anne Arundel County, Md., schools.

“New York has the diversity we have, and on an even bigger scale,” said Miami school board member Perla Tabares Hantman. “And certainly his credentials are impeccable.”

Mr. Crew led the 1.1-million student New York district, the nation’s largest, from 1995 through 1999. He won state legislation that gave him the authority to choose the superintendents that then ran the subdistricts—power that had long resided with the city’s 32 community school boards.

As chancellor, Mr. Crew also eliminated what were seen by some as excessive job protections for principals. He created the chancellor’s district, made up of the city’s lowest-performing schools, and targeted those schools for additional resources and technical support from the central office.

Mr. Crew also has held superintendencies in Tacoma, Wash., and Sacramento, Calif. Since leaving New York, he has led the Institute for K-12 Leadership, a training center for school and district administrators at the University of Washington, and has served as a director at the Stupski Foundation in Mill Valley, Calif., which works to improve district management practices.

Florida’s 363,000-student Miami-Dade County district presents no less of a challenge. Superintendent Merrett Stierheim, a former manager of Dade County who was hired in 2001 to clean up management problems, has often led with the narrowest majority of support from his board.

“The very first challenge is to create a mutually respectful working relationship with the school board,” said H.T. Smith, a Miami civil rights lawyer who served on a citizens’ panel that advised on the superintendent search.

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