Natchez candidate for school superintendent drops out

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2001

[04/18/01] One of three men interviewed to become superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District is no longer a candidate for the job. Dr. Carl Davis announced his decision to remain superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District Tuesday.

“It was a great interview,” said Davis, 47, who has 25 years of experience. “But I have formed a support group here that said please don’t leave.”

Davis’ withdrawal leaves two finalists Dr. Timothy Havard, assistant superintendent of Jackson County School District in Vancleave, and veteran educator Donald Oakes, who has been interim superintendent of VWSD since Robert Pickett’s retirement last February.

“Davis was a very good candidate,” Board of Trustees Vice President John Carlisle said. “From what I understand, people really like him down there in Natchez.”

The new superintendent will be announced at Thursday night’s board meeting, Carlisle said, nearly two weeks before the May 1 deadline confirmed by Board of Trustees President Zelmarine Murphy last month.

Davis said he thought trustees would wait longer before they made a decision, leaving him more time to decide if he wanted the job. However, he said, people from his community who “turned up the heat” this week convinced him to remain in Natchez.

“If they want me to stay, then I’ll stay,” Davis said. “I need to be here.”

Grace Steiner, who has been Davis’ administrative assistant since he became superintendent of the Natchez-Adams district in 1999, said she supports his decision.

“I understand he needs to think about his career, but he’s done a lot of good things for our schools,” said Steiner, who has worked in the district for 18 years. “Vicksburg missed out on a good superintendent, but I’m glad he’s staying.”

Saturday’s interviews were conducted by VWSD’s five-member Board of Trustees and four members from the superintendent search committee. The search committee includes 15 teachers, educators and parents and exists under the district’s Strategic Plan adopted by trustees in 1997.

Oakes, 61, who has been a teacher, principal and administrator in Vicksburg for 39 years, said his interview “was not a stressful thing.”

Havard, 42, who has 21 years of professional experience, was complimentary of the the district and the community.

“I think there’s a lot of potential here, and a lot of good things are already in place,” he said. “Whoever gets the job will have a wonderful opportunity to work with a progressive group of people.”

The school district, which serves all of Vicksburg and Warren County, includes 14 schools, employs about 600 teachers and other certified employees and operates on a $53 million budget. The new superintendent will begin work July 1, and his pay will be negotiated after he is selected. As interim superintendent, Oakes is being paid $85,000 annually.