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King a finalist for top award

CONYERS - Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Samuel King is in the running for the state Superintendent of the Year.

On Wednesday, the Georgia School Superintendents Association announced that King is one of four finalists for the award.

After reviewing 20 nominations, a committee made up of former state winners selected King, Fayette County Schools Superintendent John DeCotis, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall and Mitchell County Schools Superintendent Beauford Hicks as the four finalists to compete for the title of Georgia's 2009 Superintendent of the Year.

King said Herb Garrett, the association's executive director, notified him earlier this week of the news.

"I am honored to be nominated and to find myself as a finalist," said King, who was one of the nominees last year for the first time since becoming superintendent at RCPS four years ago. "It was a great surprise."

He said he considers the honor as a recognition for the school system as a whole - including teachers, principals, students, parents and support staff.

"It's for accomplishments being made in the classroom when it comes to educating each child," King said. "This is a team effort."

John Hooper, assistant executive director for GSSA, said every year GSSA sends out a two-page nomination form to superintendents, board chairs and members and cabinet members around the state to seek nominations for the title. He said superintendents are known to nominate other superintendents and school boards or other school staff members have nominated their superintendents.

This year, the Rockdale County Board of Education decided to nominate King, who also was named the 2008 Outstanding Educator in the Superintendent's category for the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders.

Rockdale BOE Chairman Jeff Dugan said the board decided to nominate King after the board's award committee, made up of board members Darlene Hotchkiss and Jean Yontz saw the opportunity. Dugan said this is the first time in his 14 years on the board that the members have nominated a superintendent for the title.

"It's based on his effectiveness in his position as superintendent and based on the system making (Adequate Yearly Progress) for three years," Dugan said about King's nomination. "I thought that was outstanding and that he deserved the recognition."

The next step for King is to fill out a "lengthy" application packet from the American Association of School Administrators to send back to the committee. GSSA has no say about the state winner, rather serving as a facilitating agency, Hooper said.

After reviewing the finalists' applications, GSSA will announce the winner at an awards luncheon at the Georgia School Boards Association/GSSA Winter Conference at the Waverly Hotel in Cobb County on Dec. 5; the association also will recognize the finalists and their school boards at that time.

The winner will go on to compete for the National Superintendent of the Year. From 2005 through 2007, Georgia has had three superintendents named as finalists for the National Superintendent of the Year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.