Sean Bulson was named the new superintendent of Harford County Public Schools Monday night by the Harford County Board of Education.
The selection of Bulson, 49, a vice president with the University of North Carolina, concludes the board’s nearly five and a half month search for a successor to Superintendent Barbara P. Canavan, who has led the 37,800-student school system for five years.
“Thank you all on the board for your vote of confidence,” Bulson said after his four-year contract was unanimously approved by the board. “There is a lot of great work already going on here, nearly all the arrows are pointing in the right direction.”
Bulson said he looks forward to getting to know the community and he knows there is a lot to talk about.
“No school district ever gets to say they’re finished, they always have more challenges to confront,” he said.
According to the contract that was approved, Bulson will be paid $207,5000 a year. He also must establish residency in Harford by Aug. 20.
Bulson has been married to Katherine Treanor, who works for a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., for nearly 20 years. They have a 14-year-old daughter, Emily.
Canavan announced her retirement in early January. She has worked for the Harford system as a teacher, principal and administrator since 1973. The last day of her four-year contract is June 30.
Bulson, who has prior ties to Maryland, was one of two finalists the board considered to replace Canavan. He was also a finalist for superintendent of Cecil County Public Schools, a post the Cecil board filled with an internal candidate last month.
Sources said Bulson was selected after the board let him and the other finalist for the post, David Ring Jr., meet with staff, students and the general public on separate days last month.
Participants in open forums with the two men were asked to fill out comment cards afterward and Bulson’s cards had the more favorable responses, according to one source close to the selection process.
Bulson and Ring were narrowed down from a pool of 21 candidates.
Bulson has 23 years of experience in public education, according to HCPS, starting his career with the Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland’s largest school district, where he was principal of Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School and later a community superintendent overseeing 36 schools with approximately 24,000 students in all grades.
In 2011, he became superintendent of Wilson County Schools (WCS) in North Carolina supervising 12,000 students and 25 schools.
He resigned that position in February 2016 to join a private company called NC New Schools, an operator of specialty and early college high schools in North Carolina and four other states, that abruptly went out of business in April 2016, according to reports by the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.
Later that year, Bulson joined the University of North Carolina system as an interim vice president for the Division of University and P-12 Partnerships, where according to HCPS, he was leading an initiative aimed at opening laboratory schools at UNC institutions to serve students from low-performing schools.
During his public visit to Harford County on May 17, Bulson, originally from New England, said he hoped to be able to return to Maryland where his career started.
Bulson holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from The American University, a master’s degree in ESOL instruction from Marymount University in Arlington, Va.,, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership from The George Washington University.