Dr. S. Dallas Dance, chief middle school officer in the Houston Independent School District in Texas, has been chosen as the new superintendent of schools in Baltimore County.
Dr. S. Dallas Dance, chief middle school officer in the Houston Independent School District in Texas, has been chosen as the new superintendent of schools in Baltimore County. (Staff photo by Sarah Pastrana)

Baltimore County Public Schools announced Tuesday, March 27, that S. Dallas Dance, chief middle schools officer of the Houston Independent School District, has been selected as the county's new superintendent effective July 1, 2012.

"I am thrilled, honored, and humbled to be joining such an outstanding school system," Dance said in a statement. "I intend to work tirelessly to reach out and collaborate with everyone who wants to make Baltimore County schools an even better place for students."


Dance will replace outgoing superintendent Joe Hairston, who will retire at the end of the school year after 12 years of service in Baltimore County.

In his current role, which he has held since March 2010, Dance oversees nearly 300 schools in the Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the country.

Board of Education President Lawrence Schmidt said in the statement that it "identified Dr. Dance as an individual with exceptional talent who came make an outstanding school system even better."

The Baltimore Sun reported that while the four-year contract has yet to be drawn up, Schmidt told the paper that Dance will earn about $250,000, about $60,000 less than Joe Hairston, who is leaving the job on July 1 after 12 years.

Dance, 30, was also a finalist for the superintendent position in Howard County, a post that was ultimately given to Baltimore County Assistant Superintendent Renee Foose.

According to the county school system release, Dance "has distinguished himself as a steady and driven leader with outstanding communication, problem-solving and human relations skills.

"He is held in high regard by his peers for being decisive but thoughtful and for his unique ability to build consensus among stakeholders with divergent interests during contentious issues," the release said. "Dr. Dance is an unflappable professional who is respected for his political acumen, his talent for building and leading high performing teams, and for his ability to engage staff, students and community members.

The release says Dance played a "significant role" in Houston's record highs in graduation rates and in Advanced Placement test results, as well as record low dropout rates.

He also played a "pivotal role" in addressing a budget deficit of over $120 million in a two-year period, the release stated.

Dance got his educational beginning in Virginia, where he received his master's degree in administration and supervision and a doctorate in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.

He taught high school English in Henrico County, and served as a principal and assistant principal at the middle and high schools, on top of several executive positions.

Dance served as both the director of school and division improvement for Chesterfield County Public Schools and assistant superintendent of Louisa County Public Schools.

He has a 2-year-old son, Myles Dallas Dance.

Dance's appointment will be voted on in an open session of the county school board that has yet to be determined, and is subject to mandated approval of the State Superintendent of Schools.