To hear Margie Orr's explanation, it almost sounds like she and her fellow York City school board members had to settle for Eric Holmes as the district's new superintendent.

The board president said Holmes was chosen this week to replace Deborah Wortham because he knows the district "inside out" -- and the board didn't want to spend the money to do a full superintendent search.

That might have been less of a back-handed compliment than a lament the district didn't have the money for a full superintendent search.

The fact is the district didn't need to spend any more. Holmes has already been vetted.

He was among the three candidates recommended two years, when the board paid the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to conduct a superintendent search.

Holmes'qualifications haven't changed: He has been with the district for more than 25 years as a teacher, principal and most recently the assistant superintendent for human resources.

He also ran the district as interim superintendent for a year before the board chose Wortham over him.

And Holmes did a good job at a difficult time -- the previous superintendent had just been fired, financial problems had led to dozens of teacher layoffs and program cuts, and students were fleeing to charters.

Academic achievement actually improved under his short tenure.

No disrespect to Wortham, but the board missed an opportunity two years ago. We're glad it didn't make the same mistake this time.


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The district now is essentially under the control of a state-appointed financial recovery officer and his committee, who have mapped out a radical "transformational" plan to get its finances in order and improve the quality of education.

It's unclear what, exactly, the superintendent's role will be under this new model -- uncertainty that likely played a part in Wortham's decision to quit.

But the advice of someone who worked his way up the ranks over decades, has seen the mistakes as well as the achievements -- who knows the district "inside out" -- shouldn't be discounted during this process.

A leader like Holmes is necessary, we believe, for the district to implement this ambitious plan and make a successful recovery.

It's not going to be easy, and we wish him the best.