Calvin Watts.

Calvin Watts.

Georgia school board confirms Watts as new superintendent

Calvin Watts led Kent School District for six years

Calvin Watts certainly will keep Georgia on his mind after the Gwinnett County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire him as superintendent after six years as the Kent School District leader.

The board voted Friday, July 30 to hire Watts, two weeks after it announced him as the sole finalist to replace J. Alvin Wilbanks, who led the district for 25 years. Watts received a two-year contract.

“Thank you for your belief in my ability,” Watts told the board after the vote, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at

Watts came to Kent to be superintendent in 2015 after working as an assistant superintendent for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

“I enjoyed working together as we attempted to find the best replacement we could for Mr. Wilbanks for the sake of the kids of Gwinnett County,” board member Steve Knudsen said, according to “I’m super excited to have Dr. Watts here. I think he’s going to do a great job.”

It took two controversial 3-2 votes over the past year by the Kent School Board for Watts to keep his job. Each vote extended his contract.

Watts will make more than $413,000 a year as superintendent, according to That includes base salary ($380,972) and transportation and expense allowances. Watts had an annual salary of $279,500 with Kent.

Gwinnett is the largest school district in Georgia with about 180,000 students, the 13th-largest district in the United States. Kent has about 27,000 students.

The Kent School Board named Israel Vela to a 30-day interim superintendent role as it begins the process to replace Watts. Vela is the district’s chief school operations and academic support officer.

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