The Savannah-Chatham Board of Education has narrowed its choice for school superintendent to four. Board president Hugh Golson introduced the candidates today. The board now has 14 days to decide on one.
To the surprise of many, all the candidates are from out of town and all have leadership roles in their current school districts.
Before the news conference really got underway to announce the finalists, Golson made a special announcement. "When the candidates are presented to you, you will notice our current superintendent, George Bowen is not among the finalists," he said.
The search firm did not include Bowen in its final list, disappointing Golson. But he says he is confident the four finalists are good choices.
The finalists are Dr. Thomas Lockamy from Norfolk, Virginia, Dr. Michael Bull from Gainesville, Georgia, Dr. Carl Harris from Durham, North Carolina, and Dr. Donnie Evans from Tampa, Florida. Each candidate introduced himself and talked about his achievements:
"We are one of five urban districts in the nation that have been recognized for three years for academic achievement and eliminating the achievement gap," said Lockamy.
They announced what they would bring to Chatham County:
"Safety first, students cannot learn if they don't feel safe and teachers can't teach if they don't feel safe," said Evans.
One finalist even talked about changes he would make:
"I think you need to break into smaller districts within your big district and you can do it just like a small district to get the same results," said Bull.
And finally, why they are interested in the job:
"I would come with that kind of mindset that, no matter where we are, it's about where we can go in a collaborative effort," said Harris.
The board says this will be a hard decision with so many qualified candidates.
"I'm tickled with the pool this year," board member David Wegman told us. "I'm looking for one that can come in and mold us and handle what we're facing at the current time."
"I'm looking for proven results for academic achievement and that is virtually it," said fellow board member Lori Brady. "That's what this district needs the most."
One of the things board members say they will be looking for is someone who will be able to blend in the community. "Savannah is a unique town," said Wegman. "And it will take someone unique to fit and at the same time get alone with everyone and still get his point across"
Since board members say all these candidates are qualified, it will be a challenging decision that has to be made within 14 days.
Public forums will be held in the next two weeks so you can meet the candidates. No dates have been set just yet, but we'll let you know when they are.