Split vote leads county board to wait on new superintendent

Published 8:12pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

After interviewing five candidates for the Dallas County Schools superintendent position Tuesday, board members met Thursday to cast their vote only to be faced with a split decision — leaving the next leader of Dallas County Schools unknown.  

Vice President of Dallas County Schools Mark Story and board member Peggy Williamson voiced their support for Don Willingham, who currently serves on the board, while board members Carolyn Bates and Roy Edwards voted for Tonya Chestnut. Board President William Minor abstained from voting, citing that he needed more time to consider the candidates.

“The only reason we’re waiting is because we want to make a sound, thought out decision,” Minor said after the meeting. “We need three votes to hire, and we simply didn’t have that today.”

Each board member — excluding Willingham — voiced their opinion on who would serve Dallas County Schools best.

Story and Williamson said Willingham is the best candidate for the position, as he has experience within the system.

“We need the experience and the knowledge,” Williamson said, noting that Willingham has served the system for several years. “He has such a big heart for the Dallas County School System.”

Story shared a similar opinion as Williamson, and said Willingham offers enough insight to lead Dallas County Schools and better the system.

“We need someone who’s stable, who will work with us, who will continue to make improvements in the school system — that needs to be known to the community,” Story said.

Bates, however, said Chestnut would bring fresh eyes to the position.

“From what I heard at the interviews, Ms. Chestnut did have a wealth of knowledge of the schools,” Bates said, adding that Chestnut came highly recommended from the state department of education.

Minor said he expects whoever becomes the next superintendent to lead Dallas County Schools into a better future.

“We have some really good applicants here,” Minor said. “It’s just decision making time now.”

The board will meet Monday at 6 p.m. for a final vote.

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