Meet the sole finalist for next superintendent of Georgia’s largest school district

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County has named their finalist to become the new superintendent of the largest school system in the state.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan is inside the board meeting where Dr. Calvin Watts, former principal and assistant superintendent, was named as the board’s finalist for the position.

Watts is currently superintendent of the Kent School District in Washington state. Earlier in his career, Watt served as a principal in the Gwinnett school district.

Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins spoke exclusively with Watts about his plans for the district.

“I’m feeling incredibly excited, glad to serve as superintendent,” Watts said.

Watts emerged as someone with a proven track record, not just in Gwinnett County Public Schools, but also as the sitting superintendent in a diverse school system as well. Watts faces his own set of challenges as a superintendent of the Kent School District in Seattle.

According to news sources in Seattle, questions were raised in 2018 about whether he financially benefitted from companies that were contracted to do business with the district.

Everton Blair, the chairman of the Gwinnett County School Board, said that won’t affect the decision.

“We discussed it thoroughly about what the issue was there, and it won’t be an issue for us here,” Blair said.

“I took leave, and during that time I received a stiped,” Watts said.

Watts is rejoining the Gwinnett County School Board during a challenging time, on the heals of the pandemic and an ongoing accreditation review, but some remain optimistic.

“We are certainly excited and looking forward to what he brings to the table,” parent Michael Rudnick said.

Blair said that Watts has “incredible and strong leadership skills” that the district will benefit from.

“It’s a joy and an awesome opportunity that I accept,” Watts said.

Once approved, Watts will replace Alvin Wilbanks, who was voted out earlier this year.

Wilbanks, who was possibly the highest paid superintendent in Georgia, got ousted by the board in a very narrow vote. His last school board meeting is on Thursday. He’s set to leave July 31, one year before his contract ends.

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Wilbanks came under fire by some who criticized him for his early opening of schools during the pandemic. Other parents believe he’s done a superb job in his 25 years of service.

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Wilbanks recently told Channel 2 Action News that he has no regrets and is at peace with the board’s decision.

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“It’s been a great experience for me,” Wilbanks said. “It’s been hopefully a great experience for the school district. A lot of kids have done a lot of great things, accomplished a lot in past 25 years.”