Johnny Rowland was named the Webster Parish Schools’ interim superintendent.

In the wake of the sudden retirement of Dr. Dan Rawls, Rowland was chosen as the district’s leader in a special meeting Thursday, while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

“I feel good about this in that we have a fantastic supervisory staff,” he said. “I say that with the bottom of my heart. Dr. Rawls’ last day was (April 20), and Thursday morning, people showed up for work and went to work. They went about the business of running the Webster Parish School System. You can feel good about that in knowing we’re going to carry on.”

He commended the staff, principals and teachers for their dedication and love for children.

“We want to advance the cause of our children and explore every opportunity to give them every advantage they should have in achieving their education,” he said. “I give you my word that I take this extremely seriously. I’ve prayed about this, and I will continue to do so. I will show up with the mission to do what is right for our students first, and our employees and all of our stakeholders in Webster Parish.”

Rowland will receive a $500 per month stipend with reimbursements for cell phone use and mileage in addition to his normal pay as the school system’s personnel director.
The board also voted in favor of allowing the interim superintendent to be eligible to apply for the job full time.

“I think to be transparent, that person who will complete an application for superintendent should not be considered as an interim,” board member Frankie Mitchell, who voted against the motion, said. “You can say what you want to, I think we should start off fair to the applicants.”

Applications can be submitted up until June 2 and the board hopes to have a list of eligible applicants by June 12.

Rawls was at the meeting Thursday, and Board President Charles Strong thanked him for leading Webster Parish schools during a difficult fiscal time.

“We will miss Dan Rawls,” Strong said. “We will stand forever in your debt, so please know when you go back home that you carry the well wishes, the thoughts and prayers of everyone associated with Webster Parish Schools.”

The board hopes to name a permanent superintendent by July 1.