Dr. Susan Kincannon

Dr. Susan Kincannon

Belton schools Superintendent Susan Kincannon was hired Thursday evening to lead the Waco Independent School District.

The board of trustees voted 5-2 to approve the hiring. Board members Norman Manning and Stephanie Korteweg voted against the hiring, citing concerns about Kincannon’s ability to lead a district where most of the students are Hispanic or black.

“Welcome, Dr. Kincannon,” school board president Angela Tekell said after the vote.

Kincannon, a 20-year employee of the Belton Independent School District, was named the lone finalist for the Waco ISD job on Aug. 7. Trustees were required by law to wait 21 days before finalizing Kincannon’s hiring.

Kincannon will replace former Waco Superintendent Marcus Nelson, who resigned in March after he was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Since then, longtime educator Hazel Rowe has been leading Waco ISD as interim superintendent.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve,” Kincannon told the board Thursday evening.

Manning and Korteweg raised concerns about Kincannon’s ability to lead the district because she comes from a white-majority school district, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. Sixty percent of students in Waco ISD are Hispanic and 28.3 percent are black, the paper said.

Manning also raised concerns that Kincannon has a business partnership with Tekell, according to the newspaper. Tekell and Kincannon, along with others, share ownership of a house on the Brazos River that rents on Airbnb for $295 a night, the Tribune-Herald reported.

Tekell, the former general counsel for Belton ISD, told the paper that board members were informed about her relationship with Kincannon when the educator applied for the superintendent job.

At the Waco ISD meeting Thursday, some parents expressed concerns about the relationship between Tekell and Kincannon, citing ethical and integrity issues. One parent said he filed a complaint on the matter with the Texas Education Agency.

Tekell addressed her relationship with Kincannon, having worked with her for a decade at BISD. “For 10 years, Susan Kincannon has been a colleague and became my friend,” Tekell said, adding that Kincannon is an experienced educator qualified to lead Waco ISD.

Tekell said she repeatedly discussed the relationship with board members, who urged her not to recuse herself from voting for Kincannon as lone finalist.

“Dr. Kincannon is passionate about the students that she serves. She believes that every student deserves an education that will set them on the path to realizing their full potential,” Tekell said. “More than that, her experience, her expertise in curriculum and instruction, her knowledge of our district, and her connections to resources in our region and across the state make Dr. Kincannon the right person to lead Waco ISD forward.”

Kincannon’s annual salary will be $252,500 in Waco ISD. Her salary in Belton ISD was $215,000 a year.

BISD interim superintendent

The Belton school board voted last week to hire former Temple schools superintendent Robin Battershell as interim superintendent for this school year.

“I am just trying to figure out what is appropriate for an interim superintendent to do and what is needed to be done by the permanent superintendent,” Battershell told the Telegram. “I will then pick out the items that I think are manageable for the next few months and what will lay up the next superintendent for success.”

Battershell has been hired by the school board for six months as the district searches for a permanent replacement to take the position. Although Battershell has said that she only wishes to be the district’s superintendent temporarily, the contract has room for a possible extension if the right candidate is not found within the allotted six months.

Kincannon’s impact

Kincannon has led Belton ISD during a time of growth — as the district grew to from fewer than 9,000 students to a booming population of more than 12,000.

Since 2011, Belton ISD added two new middle schools and three elementary schools. The newest elementary school, Charter Oak, opened last week.

The district is constructing its second comprehensive high school, Lake Belton High, which opens next fall in West Temple.

“For the past eight years under Dr. Kincannon’s leadership, Belton ISD has been a destination school district,” Belton school board President Sue Jordan said in a statement. “Her leadership has also made it a welcoming place for all of our families. Dr. Kincannon has celebrated our diversity and helped to build a genuinely inclusive culture.”

Kincannon began as a fifth grade teacher in Temple ISD. She joined Belton ISD in July 2000 as a middle school principal before becoming assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

A farewell reception for Kincannon is scheduled in Belton next week.

The reception will be held from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Bawcom Student Union Building, 900 College St.