CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Board of Education has named Rich Autry, chief academic officer in the Office of Teaching & Learning at Rockdale County Public Schools, as its next superintendent.
During a special called session Monday afternoon, the board unanimously selected Autry, who has been a chief academic officer since 2008.
"I can't think of a better person," said board member Darlene Hotchkiss. "We appreciate your willingness to take on the role."
The move will be effective July 1, subject to a contract being reviewed by RCPS general counsel Jack Lance and finalized. The annual base salary will be $175,000.
The board had been using the Georgia School Boards Association as a search agency for its next superintendent; current Superintendent Samuel King announced his resignation in May effective June 30.
Conyers resident and GSBA consultant Billy Johnson currently is serving as interim superintendent, as King is making a transition to his new superintendent position in Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia, which he begins July 2.
"The board began to follow the process used when previous superintendents left the system, and that process quickly revealed we already had the most qualified candidate in the system senior staff, so we began discussions, which led us to this point," said BOE Chairman Wales Barksdale, adding that the board recently requested to suspend its search.
GSBA had developed a timeline for the board that would have a superintendent in place by November.
GSBA plans to refund its $8,000 fee that the school board already paid for the search, according to Barksdale. The board expected to spend up to $10,000 for the search.
The board will pay Johnson $11,000 for his month of work, according to his contract.
School board Vice Chair Jean Yontz said that utilizing an internal candidate will help with "continuity" and a seamless transition.
"We've come a long way, and we want to continue to go that way," she said.
Autry first came to RCPS in 1993 as a teacher, and then worked in Butts County before returning to RCPS as principal of Hightower Trail Elementary School in 2000. He was principal for six years until being promoted to assistant superintendent for Support Services and then for the Office of Teaching and Learning.
"I am excited," Autry said during Monday's meeting, which interrupted a previously planned vacation. "I appreciate the support."
He said he's "committed to the continued success" for RCPS.
"As superintendent, my sole purpose will be to ensure that all students are provided the highest quality educational opportunities necessary to become successful, productive citizens of this community and beyond," Autry said in a prepared statement.
Autry said he is "indebted" to King, who he calls a friend and a mentor.
"Things he modeled and taught me and the things we learned together will serve us well," Autry said.
Autry has more than 26 years of experience in education working at all levels, including as a middle and high school teacher, as well as a primary and elementary school administrator, according to RCPS.
He holds a bachelor degree from East Carolina University and a masters and educational specialist degrees in the area of educational administration and supervision from the University of Southern Mississippi. His professional memberships include the Georgia School Superintendents Association, Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Gamma Beta Phi Society for outstanding scholastic achievement and both the Georgia and National Association of Elementary School Leaders.
Autry is married to Brandy and has one daughter, Hadyn Elizabeth. He enjoys spending leisure time with his family and his interests include the outdoors, the arts and gourmet cooking. The Autrys are planning to relocate from McDonough to Rockdale County as soon as economic conditions allow, he said.