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Superintendent to retire June 30

After 40 years as an educator, including 16 years as a superintendent, Dr. Marcus J. Newsome on March 6 announced his retirement from Petersburg City Public Schools effective June 30, 2019.

Dr. Newsome has led Petersburg schools since July 2016 when he delayed his retirement to accept the Petersburg superintendency. He was encouraged to do so by the Virginia secretary of education and state superintendent of public instruction and said at the time he was delaying his retirement in order to help the children of Petersburg.

In his letter of retirement to the Petersburg School Board, Dr. Newsome wrote, “I share your pride in knowing that we are in a much better place than we were three years ago. … Together, we have established a solid foundation for the future.”

Here is some of the progress achieved in Petersburg City Public Schools under Dr. Newsome’s leadership:

  • All schools are accredited; some with conditions.
  • A comprehensive five-year strategic plan called Innovate 2022 has been implemented to provide a 21st-century learning experience for students.
  • Every student in grades 2 through 12 has been issued a Chromebook loaded with Discovery Techbooks, and all students from prekindergarten through grade 12 have been introduced to coding.
  • On-grade-level reading levels have improved by more than 20 points.
  • Operations have strengthened, as evidenced by the district earning its first-ever Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials International in 2017 and repeating the achievement in 2018.
  • The district has established a Teacher Residency Program, a free teacher supply store and an Assistant Principals Leadership Academy to better support employees.
  • Connections have strengthened with the 200-plus members of the City and Schools Partnership and with faith, business and community partners.

School Board Chairman Kenneth L. Pritchett said, “We deeply appreciate Dr. Newsome’s service to Petersburg City Public Schools. The School Board and I wish that Dr. Newsome’s retirement announcement were coming several years later, yet we understand his choice and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. We are grateful to have had Dr. Newsome as our superintendent, and we know that Petersburg schools are stronger now than we were three years ago. The School Board will now turn its attention to hiring a talented and experienced superintendent to build on the foundation we have built over the past several years, and move Petersburg City Public Schools to the next level.”

Dr. Newsome began his career as an art teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, later becoming a mathematics teacher. From there, he moved to Prince George’s County (Maryland) Public Schools — among the largest school systems in the nation with almost 130,000 students — where he worked his way through the ranks to become dean of students, assistant principal, principal, director and executor director.

In 2003, Dr. Newsome was appointed superintendent of Newport News Public Schools, where all high schools became recognized by Newsweek magazine as among the Best High Schools in America. From 2006 to 2016 he served as superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, one of the nation’s 100 largest districts. Under his leadership, Chesterfield County test scores and graduation rates reached all-time highs and each of the district’s 63 schools was fully accredited. The district also implemented the largest Chromebook initiative in the country and was recognized at a White House ceremony in 2015 for transforming from a text to a digital environment.

In his March 6 letter to the Petersburg School Board, Dr. Newsome wrote, “As I transition into the next phase of my life, I will continue to pray for the Petersburg City Public Schools family as I have done for the past three years. I believe!”

The School Board has hired B.W.P. & Associates, an educational leadership search firm, to lead the search for Petersburg’s next superintendent. Petersburg City Public Schools has eight schools and 4,000 students.