KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new era will begin soon at Knox County Schools.

Board members cast votes Tuesday and chose to offer Dr. Jon Rysewyk a job as the new superintendent of the school system. Their nine votes were up for grabs as Rysewyk and Dr. Linda Cash vied to be the next superintendent.

“Both were highly qualified and skilled but the board did decide Dr. Rysewyk would be our next superintendent of Knox County schools,” said Knox County School Board Chair Kristi Kristy.

The school board plans to offer Rysewyk his contract in March.

Rysewyk described the hiring process as “thorough vetting.” He continued, “I think it kind of stretched me and my leadership in ways that I probably haven’t been stretched and I welcome that. I mean it should be, this is an important job.”

Rysewyk gained six votes while Cash received two. One board member, Jennifer Owen, voted for neither candidate. Afterward, a discussion ensued among board members once the votes were read.

“Even when we disagree we continue to work we’ll and move on,” said Kristy.

School board vice-chair Evetty Satterfield voted for Cash.

“Dr. Cash rose to the top and that is why she received my vote. And I believe that she has a very student-centered focus and I wish her the best in all of her journey,” she said.

“I’m not surprised at all that it’s not unanimous and I think it’s actually healthier that it’s not unanimous,” said Kristy.

But it was Rysewyk who came out the victor for superintendent. A contract will be drawn up.

“I don’t know if there was if anyone had their minds made up because we didn’t know any of the candidates so after the roll out of the candidates, Jon Rysewyk rose to the top,” said Satterfield.

“I think it’s really important we focus on excellence and foundational skills. Talked about that through the interview process. Really early literacy, making sure we maximize that, increasing those proficiency rates in third grade. Same thing for ninth-grade algebra. That’s an important thing for us,” Rysewyk said.

Finding Knox County’s new school superintendent started in the fall of last year. Rysewyk was selected from a field of 18 candidates. He will become the first new Knox County school superintendent since 2017.

“This is my community. As I said through the interview process, this is where my wife and I raised our daughters and it’s a blessing to have the opportunity to serve the people of Knox County. Particularly for me, the students of Knox County,” Rysewyk said.

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If Rysewyk accepts the board’s offer, he will receive annual compensation of more than $200,000 and will start his new position on July 1.