Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance ends his five-year tenure leading one of the largest systems in the nation on Friday and begins a new consulting job on Monday.
The 36-year-old superintendent said he will become a senior vice president at MGT Consulting Group, a large Florida-based consulting company with offices around the country.
He said he has already sold his house in the county and moved to Richmond, Va., where his mother and his young son, Myles, live. The new job will allow him the flexibility to live in Richmond, he said. His last two days as superintendent will be vacation days.
Dance resigned abruptly on April 18, saying he no longer wanted to work 14-hour days and decided to leave before the end of his second four-year contract. He said he had multiple offers to run other school systems but decided he no longer wanted to be a superintendent.
Dance is known for fast-paced decision making that some critics said left teachers and staff overwhelmed. He also forged better communications with the community, overcoming a shortcoming of the previous superintendent that concerned lawmakers. Dance also launched a technology initiative, emphasized educational equity in a diverse county, and angered parents and teachers over scheduling and grading policy changes.
Dance said he was proudest of the work he did to build a new culture of openness and idea sharing within the school system. When he arrived, he said, he found staff members fearful of expressing their opinions. He said he believes there is now a better sense of teamwork and direction among the thousands of staff, teachers and administrators he led.
Over the last several years, Dance also required administrators and senior staff to get training in an attempt to ensure that all students are treated equally.
The training is now being done at the individual school level.
"Build capacity to have tough conversations with each other then ... you build a system that can address anything," he said.
MGT has had contracts with local school systems, including Baltimore County in 2001 and Anne Arundel more recently. Most of the company's work has focused on improving operational efficiencies, but Dance said he has been hired to lead a new effort to provide school systems advice on improving academic performance.
"I will build out the instructional side," he said adding that he would help school systems with three issues he feels passionate about — "school leadership, equity work and school turnaround."
MGT Chairman and CEO A. Trey Traviesa said Dance will "be a national leader for K-12 consulting services. ... We are very excited."
Dance also recently got a part-time consulting job with the Center for Digital Education, where he will be giving advice to technology companies creating new educational products and programs. He will be one of about 25 senior fellows at the center who occasionally write papers, moderate web seminars and speak at events, according to Susan Gentz, the center's deputy executive director for content.
The Center for Digital Education is a media company focused on technology and education, according to Gentz. The fellows are paid for each assignment, she said.
The school board appointed Verletta White, the chief academic officer, as interim superintendent for one year.
"Verletta is smart and she is bold," Dance said. "It is definitely time" for her to become a superintendent.
Dance said he told White he would not call her but would always answer her calls if she needs help.
"I love Maryland," he said. "I love Baltimore County."