LIVINGSTON —The Livingston Parish School Board appointed John Watson as the next superintendent of parish schools Thursday.

One of two assistant superintendents for the district, Watson was one of four applicants for the position being vacated by the retirement of Superintendent Bill Spear on Feb. 15.

The other applicants were Charles Michel, supervisor of special education for Lafourche Parish schools; Donna Alleman, outreach director for the Louisiana School for the Deaf and Visually Impaired; and Afreda Hygh, teacher at Fair Park High School in Shreveport.

The School Board, sitting as a committee of the whole Oct. 25, voted 7-0 to recommend Watson for the position. Board member Milton Hughes was absent, and board member James Watson recused himself.

James Watson and John Watson are brothers.

The School Board’s vote Thursday to accept the committee’s recommendation was 8-0, with James Watson again not voting.

Because Spear’s last working day as superintendent will be Friday, the board also approved John Watson to serve as interim superintendent from Saturday through Feb. 14.

Watson’s contract as superintendent will run through Dec. 31, 2016.

Watson has worked in the Livingston Parish school system since 1983, when he began as a teacher and coach at Denham Springs High School. He has served as assistant principal at Live Oak High School and Westside Junior High, principal at Levi Milton Elementary and Walker High, as well as supervisor of instruction and human resources supervisor.

He has been an assistant superintendent with the district since 2007.

Spear congratulated Watson on his appointment as superintendent, saying it was “a privilege and an honor” to have worked with Watson for the past four years.

Watson said he has thoroughly enjoyed working with Spear as well.

“And I can honestly say there’s no one in this room who’s going to miss you more,” Watson said.

System staff held a retirement reception for Spear at Doyle High School in Livingston before the board meeting.

At the meeting, the board members each thanked Spear for his service and dedication to the district.

“I appreciate the job you’ve done and especially how you’ve handled the tough times with money problems,” longtime board member Milton Hughes told Spear.

Board member Kellee Hennessy Dickerson said Spear has led by example, with integrity and faith.

“You’re a good man, you’ve done a great job, and you have a lot to be proud of,” she said.