CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to offer a contract as superintendent to Carlos J. Sam, an associate superintendent in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.
Sam, also a finalist for superintendent of Lafayette Parish schools, said after the vote that he would withdraw from the scheduled Wednesday night interviews of Lafayette’s finalists.
Sam will succeed Henderson Lewis Jr., who resigned last month after being named superintendent of Orleans Parish schools.
The vote came after the board interviewed Sam, Patrick D. Jenkins and George Noflin Jr. in sessions open to the public, contrary to what board President Michael Bradford had announced last week.
Bradford said Lewis was “a franchise player,” but Sam will be “a game-changer.”
Sam, a 26-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge system, is now associate superintendent for support services, but served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of magnet programs.
“My dream job has always been to be a superintendent,” Sam said during his interview. “I think I’m a good fit for East Feliciana Parish.”
Sam said he believes in stability, which is one reason for his long-time association with East Baton Rouge schools.
“If you make me your superintendent, I plan to be here for a long time,” he added.
Jenkins began the interview sessions.
“Everything I’ve done for the last 24 years in education has prepared me for this job,” Jenkins said, providing examples of his experience in various educational fields and his career as an Army National Guard engineering officer.
Jenkins is the operations chief for the Zachary Community School System, in charge of maintenance, construction, athletics, safety, food service and other areas.
Noflin, an East Feliciana Parish native, is superintendent of Morehouse Parish schools. He said his board has granted him a contract extension but he has not yet signed it.
Noflin said Lewis started East Feliciana on the right path, but the next superintendent must build on his work.
He provided specific examples of educational techniques he has used in several school systems, including requiring central office employees and principals to observe classroom teaching for specific amounts of time each week.
“You have to inspect what you expect,” Noflin said.
Board member Paul Kent also said he appreciates Sam’s statement that Lewis had begun turning the school system around.
The school system faces an immediate budget crisis, and board members asked the candidates how they would address the financial problems.
“If you have confidence in me, I have a plan of attack to deal with those issues,” Jenkins said.
Noflin said he worked with the Morehouse Parish board to implement a five-stage budget reduction plan that enabled the board to finish with operating surpluses in the last two years “after years of deficit spending.”
Noflin said he would develop a financial plan after studying the parish’s finances in detail, but added, “There has to be unity among board members before you can do anything.”
Sam also told the board he will study the system’s finances in depth, then give them a list of options to avoid the looming fiscal crisis.