Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang will be losing his second in command for a job in Rochester, N.Y., creating a leadership gap that is prompting him to restructure his team just one year into his administration.
The Rochester Board of Education announced Monday that its next superintendent would be Barbara Deane-Williams, who has been working for the past year as Boston’s senior deputy superintendent, overseeing such critical departments as transportation, facilities, and enrollment services.
Her departure comes as Chang has been dealing with a number of crises during his first year on the job, including racial tensions at Boston Latin School, lead contamination in drinking water, and a contentious effort to draft a master facilities plan that has raised alarm among many parents that schools could be shuttered.
Chang said in an interview Monday that Deane-Williams will be missed very much, but added strong superintendents are needed across the country.
“First of all, a major congratulations to Barbara Deane-Williams,” he said. “I’ve always thought the world of her.”
The exit of Deane-Williams comes on the heels of another notable departure: Kim Rice, a longtime Boston school administrator who stepped down as assistant superintendent for operations a few months ago and took a job with the state’s executive office of education.
In light of Deane-Williams’s departure, Chang said he will be restructuring his leadership team and hopes to announce details in the coming days. He said the changes will involve shifting some administrators, but he does not expect to bring in anyone to replace Deane-Williams.
Chang said that Rochester aggressively pursued Deane-Williams, adding that many in that school system became quite familiar with her work when she was superintendent in the nearby town of Greece, N.Y. Deane-Williams, 59, retired from that school system last year before joining Chang in Boston.
Rochester’s school board president, Van Henri White, applauded the choice of Deane-Williams, saying in a statement, “She has a track record for putting students and families first.”
Deane-Williams could not be reached for comment Monday.
But during a press conference Monday she said the appointment represented a “bitter-sweet moment” for her, noting that Boston provided her a wonderful opportunity to work on issues of social justice, equity, and excellence, according to an audiofeed aired by the website of the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.
“When I received the phone call about three weeks ago that this opportunity was going to present itself, I really had to do some deep reflection,” she said. “But in talking to people in Rochester, I realized this represents an opportunity for me to join a system that is well on its way to building bridges and bringing unity and better schools for each and every child. I’m very excited to be back.”
Deane-Williams, who has worked in education for over 30 years, will become the first woman to be a permanent superintendent in Rochester. According to a three-year contract that Deane-Williams signed with Rochester on Monday, she is expected to start her new job on Aug. 8 and will be receiving an annual salary of $225,000.