CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Hillsborough County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Addison Davis as its next superintendent.
Davis, who was filed to run for re-election as the Clay County school superintendent, was in Tampa for the vote, according to Tampa Bay Times reporter Marlene Sokol.
“Mr. Davis, congratulations,” Hillsborough board Chairwoman Melissa Snively said when Davis returned to the room after the vote. “We are very excited for you.”
Davis was among 51 candidates to replace Jeff Eakins, the current school superintendent in Hillsborough County, who will be retiring in June. In a statement, Davis said a search firm encourage him to apply for the Hillborough County position.
“I could not pass on the possibility to use my skill set to impact more than 220,000 students in Hillsborough County," the statement read.
Hillsborough County’s school system is five times larger than Clay County’s and is the seventh-largest in the nation.
“I’m highly shocked,” said Michelle Seda, a parent in Clay County. “He’ll definitely be missed.”
The vote came after closed-door meetings with the three finalists in the morning and a public question-and-answer session in the afternoon.
During the open session, Davis delivered a message to his current constituents about why he was seeking the job in Tampa.
“For those of you who are watching from Clay County, know that, that I love Clay County. I love being the leader. I love what we’ve done. But you’ve got to understand when you get a chance to drive the seventh-largest school district in the nation and ... impact one student times 220,000 students, that’s a game-changer.”
In addition to Davis, Don Haddad, superintendent of the St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado, and Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for The School District of Palm Beach County were in the running for the job.
Last week, after interviews with seven semi-finalists, the board ranked Davis highest.
Davis has been the school superintendent in Clay County since November 2016. Before that, he was the chief of schools in Duval County. After he filed to run for re-election, the supervisor of elections website shows he has reportedly raised more than $44,000 in contributions.
News4Jax reported late last year that Charlie Van Zant, the former Clay County superintendent of schools, had filed to run to get his old job back. Earlier this month, Melanie Dawn Walls, of Keystone Heights, filed to run for the office. All are Republicans and the race will appear on the August ballot.
Clay and Nassau counties have the only elected superintendents in Northeast Florida. The state’s seven largest school districts all have appointed superintendents, although there is a bill pending in the Florida House this year that would put a referendum on the Duval County ballot this year asking if voters would like the superintendent to be elected.