LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish School Board, in an official, unanimous and not unexpected vote Thursday, named Rick Wentzel as the new parish schools superintendent.
Wentzel, who begins his four-year contract on July 1, will replace John Watson, who is retiring after four years at the helm of the school district.
“We have a really good school system at this time and an overhaul is not an option,” Wentzel said in an interview.
“I want to continue with the positive things that we are now doing and improve on our already good record. I told the School Board that I am competitive by nature and that I will work to see that we move up even higher in our state rankings.”
Wentzel is a native of Pickering in central Louisiana. He earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1979 and later his master’s in educational administration, also from SLU. Wentzel also has earned 30-plus hours in advanced educational administration.
Wentzel began his teaching career at Live Oak High, where he was a classroom teacher and basketball coach. He then taught for eight years at Bellaire High School in East Baton Rouge Parish before returning to Livingston Parish to work as an assistant principal at Southside Junior High. He then served as principal at Springfield High and later at Walker Junior High.
Wentzel was named human resources director for the school system in 2008 and for the past three years has served as assistant superintendent.
Also on Thursday, the board declined to authorize the construction of an office at the School Transportation Department estimated to cost $35,000. Board member Buddy Mincey Jr. brought the matter up, saying that the department’s director does not have an office and has to conduct business in a conference room.
Board President Malcolm Sibley, however, said that while he is not against making improvements to the building, a study should be made of all the needs in the department first.
Mincey’s motion died for lack of a second.
The board also appointed Lindy Gill as principal of French Settlement Elementary and Eric Penalber as supervisor/director of special education.