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King chosen as Norfolk superintendent in Va.

Rockdale Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Samuel King has been chosen as the new superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, Virginia. The Norfolk school board approved hiring King in a 6-1 vote Monday evening, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

King's contract begins July 1 and he will begin in Norfolk on Monday, July 2. He will receive $235,000 in the first year of his four-year contract. 

King said in a released statement, “I am truly honored to be chosen as the next superintendent for Norfolk Public Schools.  For the past seven years, I have had the privilege of working with a great group of people in Rockdale County who, together with all stakeholders, were able to continue to increase student achievement and move the system forward amid community growth. I feel that the system is in a good place and the time is right for me and my family to progress with my aspirations and career goals, which include leading a larger urban school system such as Norfolk. It's a bittersweet time for me. I will miss the many colleagues and lifelong friends who have supported me along my journey to this point, and yet I am excited about the opportunities which lie ahead.”

Rockdale school board member Darlene Hotchkiss, who has been through four superintendent searches, said the board would need to appoint an interim superintendent and meet as a whole to decide whether to go forward with a search or appoint from within. "I wish Dr. King much positive thought. I think Norfolk is getting a terrific superintendent. He will, I'm sure, do a great job," she said.

School board member Jean Yontz said, "I'm very proud of him, but very saddened for us. He is an excellent leader. He trained his cabinet to be excellent leaders as well. We will miss him greatly." She pointed out he was the second longest-serving out of the current superintendents in Georgia. "We knew we wouldn't keep him forever."

"We are excited about this selection," said Norfolk school board chair Dr. Kirk T. Houston, Sr. in a released statement. "Dr. King has proven success in areas that are vital to us right now."

"We were looking for a superintendent with a proven record of success in a district. The leader who was able to communicate to a diverse group of stakeholders a clear and compelling vision for success in the district," said Houston.

Norfolk Public Schools has gone through turmoil in recent years with a test score manipulation scandal two years ago, the closing of two schools and elimination about 600 positions due to budget cuts in the last several years, and the termination of a recently hired superintendent, according to the Virginian-Pilot. The previous superintendent was terminated in November last year; the current search, which began in December, received about 75 applicants. Houston declined to disclose the other two finalists or the seven candidates on the short list.

The Norfolk school system reportedly has the fourth-highest dropout rate in Virginia, 15.7 percent, and an on-time graduation rate of 73.6 percent. Out of 35 schools, 10 schools missed full state accreditation and the school system has not met Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

According to a spokesperson, the system has approximately 33,500 students, 4,200 full time employees, 46 schools, and an operating budget of about $290.5 million in 2011-2012. The student body is about 62 percent black, 22 percent white, 6 percent Hispanic. About 65 percent of the student population is eligible for free and reduced lunch.

Rockdale County Public Schools has about 16,000 students and 18 schools (excluding non-traditional schools), with a student population that's about 60 percent black, 21 percent white, 12 percent hispanic. About 64 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. The operating budget for 2011-2012 is about $127 million. RCPS recently made AYP for the sixth year in a row.

RCPS had a 2011 on-time graduation rate of 66.2 percent, under the new calculation method. Under the previous Leaver-rate calculation method, it had recorded a graduation rate of 86 percent in 2011.

King is in his sixth year as RCPS superintendent and was named 2011 Georgia  Superintendent of the Year, after being a finalist for the past three years. Prior to Rockdale, he spent 10 years in administrative positions in the Clayton County school system and began his 27-year education career as a math and science teacher.