New SCCPSS superintendent finalist named at news conference

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:12 AM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2023 at 6:18 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham County School Board announced the sole finalist to be the next superintendent at a news conference on Wednesday.

The school board president announced Dr. Denise Watts is the last candidate standing. Watts most recently served as the Chief of Schools for the Houston Independent School District in Texas. There are over 240 schools and 194,000 students in that school system.

“You got to go and find the best and, for myself, I am confident in our choice,” said Roger Moss, the school board president.

In her first year serving as Chief of Schools in the Houston Independent School District, Dr. Watts helped drop the number of low-rated schools from 48 to 11, according to board president Roger Moss.

“Dr. Watts has consistently used a data driven approach to increase student achievement while also focusing on building effective relationships with students, staff, peers and the community,” said Moss.

Dr. Watts bio also shows her experience as a principal in Charlotte, North Carolina and Chief of District Support at the University of Virginia.

Moss says many community members voiced wanting someone who has experience in classrooms and...

“They wanted someone who turned around school districts. She checks that box.”

However the district did not deliver on the request by majority of residents who filled out a survey saying they wanted someone from Chatham County to serve as superintendent.

The school district conducted a nationwide search for their superintendent to fill Dr. Ann Levett’s role. Nearly 60 people were interested in the job, but 49 people applied for the superintendent role.

Board member David Bringham said it was important to them that they act fast and create a thorough listing for the role that would bring the best candidates.

“That coming together as a team to write that really helped us refocus on what our goal is as a board. Looking for that visionary leader that’s dedicated to academics,” said Bringman.

Bringman says he’s confident that she’ll build genuine relationships.

“I think she will able to continue to do the things that Dr. Levett has done well in the community. Speaking to teachers, speaking to students, being able to take a knee and take a picture with a student and then remember their name.”

The school board will take a vote during a public meeting later in June to finalize Watts’ appointment.

The school board has been conducting interviews over the past month to replace Dr. Ann Levett. She announced earlier this past school year she would retire.