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Education

CPS' new Superintendent says past experiences will help her make an impact on the district

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Cory Sharber
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WVXU
Superintendent Iranetta Wright toured North Avondale Montessori and interacted with students in art class on May 2, 2022, her first day in the district.

Classrooms within the Cincinnati Public School district are welcoming Iranetta Wright as she enters the superintendent role.

Prior to CPS, Wright was the deputy superintendent for Detroit Public Schools Community District from 2017 to 2022. The district has 53,000 students, 7,200 employees, and an operating budget of $785 million. Previously, she worked for over 25 years in Duval County Public Schools in Florida. She served as a teacher, assistant principal, middle and high school principal, regional superintendent, and the chief of schools for roughly 117,000 students and 13,000 employees.

With all that experience under her belt, Wright says this gives her an advantage going forward.

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Cory Sharber
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WVXU
Wright took a selfie with a student heading back to class after she introduced herself to him.

"For me, it's really taking all of those experiences and bringing them into an organization where I can really work to help impact change," Wright said.

The first school Wright visited Monday was North Avondale Montessori. Principal John Corey says the experience she brings in from other districts could introduce new ideas to CPS.

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Cory Sharber
/
WVXU
Principal John Corey (pictured right) helped introduce Superintendent Iranetta Wright to the district by giving her a tour of North Avondale Montessori on May 2, 2022.

"She's been down in Florida, she's been up in Detroit, she's been to a lot of places, and so you kind of pick up things from different areas and I'm excited to see what she's thinking," Corey said.

Wright visited Taft High School on Monday as well. Principal Ceair Baggett says Wright will bring a fresh perspective and lead the district in the right direction.

"Her 100 day plan is very driven and it's laid out so we know what to expect, and it looks like she's going to ask for our input, the taxpayers' input, everybody's input, so I like that so far," Baggett said.

Looking forward, Wright will be working with a school board with three new members, as well as a new president. The district will also be dealing with the ongoing impact of the pandemic. Wright will also have to work to find new transportation partners after Metro's contract with CPS runs out Jun. 30.

Wright acknowledges the challenges CPS faced last year and says she's working in partnership with the Board of Education to negotiate with partners to respond effectively.

"It's really organizing around what are the things that are really important, picking up some of those things from last year that were a challenge," Wright said. "COVID is not one of those things that we have control over; we do have control over how we respond to it. And so, making sure that we keep it on the forefront, then we work in partnership with the Health Department so if there are changes, we can be responsive proactively versus reactively."

Before her first day, Wright released her first 100 days plan. The plan is divided into four parts to allow for engagement with the community, looking at the organization of the district's departments, evaluating changes that need to be made within CPS, and implementing new strategies.

Wright was selected out of three finalists for the superintendent position. The other candidates considered were Marlon Styles, the superintendent of Middletown City Schools, and Tianay Amat who served as interim superintendent of CPS when Laura Mitchell resigned in 2021. Amat has since announced that she will leave the district to become the next president and CEO of Cincinnati Works starting May 10.

The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education has a new list of priorities it seeks to accomplish by June 13:

  • Ensure the new superintendent has a strong start in the district.
  • Support the passage of a strong budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
  • Support the adoption of a strong transportation plan for the upcoming school year.
  • Begin coaching series on effective board governance.