ZACHARY — The Zachary Community School Board is expected to vote Oct. 4 whether it wants to conduct additional interviews with any of the five candidates for the post of district superintendent.
The nine-member board concluded the first round of interviews Wednesday, hearing from former Zachary Accountability and Curriculum Director Michelle Clayton, St. James Parish Superintendent Alonzo “Lonnie” Luce and Clinton, Miss., School Superintendent Phil Burchfield.
On Tuesday, the board interviewed Zachary Operations Director Scott Devillier and Port Hudson Career Academy Principal Patrick Jenkins.
In previous meetings, board members have said they plan to narrow the list of candidates from five to two or three for a second round of interviews on Oct. 16.
Board Vice President Gaynell Young said Wednesday, however, that her colleagues also could vote Oct. 4 to name one of the five to succeed Warren Drake, who left Sept. 4 to take a job as a regional network leader for state Education Superintendent John White.
“It’s strictly up to the board,” said Young, who chaired a steering committee of board members and community leaders to develop a process for replacing Drake.
Clayton, who has a doctorate in education, is a native of Colorado who moved to Louisiana to marry her husband, Baker city Finance Director Aristead Clayton, and began teaching in East Baton Rouge Parish after finishing her bachelor’s degree studies at LSU.
She also worked with the state Education Department as it developed the state’s early accountability program, then joined the Zachary school system as it was forming in July 2003.
Clayton, one of the architects of Zachary’s academic success, took a job with the state Recovery District in Baton Rouge earlier this year, but now works as a consultant.
Clayton said she has a vested interest in Zachary’s success and views the opening “as a great opportunity to come back and serve this community and this school district.”
Luce, superintendent of St. James schools since 2007, has worked in various roles in East Baton Rouge Parish, Livingston Parish, New Orleans, LSU and Greenville, S.C. He has a doctorate in education and is a colonel in the Louisiana Army National Guard with service in Afghanistan.
The son of a Baptist minister, Luce also has served as a part-time minister and music director at several churches in Louisiana and South Carolina.
Luce said his review of Zachary’s tax base and budget shows Zachary taxpayers have said “we want good schools and we’re willing to pay for them.”
Burchfield, who also has a doctorate in education, has been school superintendent in Clinton, Miss., a suburb of Jackson, Miss., for five years and he also served five years as superintendent of Starkville, Miss., schools.
Clinton is one of three Mississippi school districts receiving A ratings earlier this month.
He said he understands the expectations of Zachary’s residents and believes he can meet those expectations, based on what he has done in Mississippi.