ZACHARY — The Zachary Community School Board heard Tuesday from two employees of the system who want to be the district’s second superintendent.
On Oct. 4, the board selected Scott Devillier, Patrick D. Jenkins and Michelle Clayton as finalists for the position left vacant when Superintendent Warren Drake accepted a job with the state Department of Education in September.
Drake served 10 years and was Zachary’s first paid superintendent.
Clayton, one of the principal architects of Zachary’s academic success, later withdrew from consideration. She is now an education consultant but said Tuesday she would welcome an opportunity to return to Zachary.
For their second and final interview Tuesday, the candidates were given templates for Powerpoint presentations on their vision for keeping Zachary competitive in the state accountability rankings, implementing the new “common core” curriculum standards, and preparing students for college and careers and using technology.
They also were asked what steps they would take to persuade voters to renew a 38.2-mill property tax for general operations in a Dec. 8 special election.
Devillier is the district’s director of operations in charge of construction, food service, transportation and other support functions. He also has served as Zachary’s director of school and home relations, and assistant principal and principal of Zachary High School.
Jenkins is the principal of Zachary’s Port Hudson Career Academy, which serves as a safety net for students who are behind in their studies and wish to pursue vocational training. He also has served as assistant principal of Northwestern Middle School and principal of Zachary and Northwestern elementary schools.
Devillier and Jenkins also met with members of the public Tuesday night at a reception at Zachary High School.
In thanking the board for supporting him as a finalist, Devillier said Jenkins “is a fine gentleman I’d be proud to work for or with.”
With 23 years in education, Devillier has served in the Pointe Coupee Catholic schools and the East Baton Rouge and Zachary public systems. He has a bachelor’s degree from LSU and a master’s in education administration from Southern University.
Devillier said one of his first acts as superintendent would be to eliminate his job as director of operations because “it’s time for me to get back to academics.”
He said he plans to hire an executive academics director to go with him into the schools and do “academic audits” of the instructional programs.
“Zachary has been tops in the state for seven years, but the game has changed. We’re now competing on a national level,” Devillier said.
Jenkins, with 21 years of educational service, was a math and science teacher for 11 years before coming to Zachary in 2003.
He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern University and is a major in the Army National Guard with service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jenkins said he also would ask the board to create an academics-oriented position, director of “curriculum, instruction and assessment,” and, over time, look at spreading responsibilities among central office staff members to increase effectiveness.
He said he wants to strengthen Zachary’s ties to local universities and vocational schools, redesign the middle school around pre-advanced placement courses, and develop “blended programs” that combine classroom and online instruction.
To coordinate with coming state pre-kindergarten initiatives, Zachary should focus on private child-care providers to make sure that any educational components they offer are aligned with Zachary’s curriculum, Jenkins said.
The board received 11 applications for the job and later decided to interview Devillier, Jenkins and Clayton, along with St. James Parish Superintendent Alonzo Luce and Clinton, Miss., Superintendent Phil Burchfield.
The board expects to hold the final vote Oct. 25, board Vice President Gaynell Young said.