(Collierville, TN) It’s already a Merry Christmas for Collierville as it lands a superintendent who was at the top of everyone’s wish list.
The deal is nearly complete to make former Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken the suburbs first superintendent.
The hiring will not be official until Monday afternoon when the school board votes on his contract Monday at city hall, but both sides say they are committed to each other, and Aitken can’t wait to start building a school district from the ground up.
“Quite frankly I miss the kids and I miss the people,” said Aitken.
Aitken says his mini-retirement allowed him to refocus and reenergize after leaving Shelby County Schools after it merged with Memphis City schools last year, but now he says it’s time to get back in the game.
“Probably some unfinished business quite honestly. I’m only 55 years old and I’ve lived in this town for 30 and a half years,” said Aitken.
Now that Aitken is getting back to work, he has big plans for Collierville.
“I think just make an exemplary school system. It’s got great schools, great principals, fine town administration, let’s hire the best folks and let them work and hopefully get this thing started in the right way,” said Aitken.
What’s good news for Collierville is bad news for most of the other suburbs who also fought to get Aitken as superintendent.
Aitken was very close to a deal with Lakeland and Arlington to be the district’s superintendent when he pulled out at the last minute.
Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman says Collierville is a natural fit for Aitken and he has no bad feelings toward him.
“I probably looked at it as a compliment quite honestly,” said Aitken.
He says it was hard to say no to the other suburbs, but he’s excited to work with whomever they pick to eventually lead their districts. Aitken says collaboration is key to everyone’s success.
“There’s been too much division. There’s been a lot of division in this community and the overall community in the past several years and pretty soon we have to get back and refocus on what’s important,” said Aitken.
The board and Aitken are still trying to work out some details in the contract like insurance issues, since he is technically coming out of retirement.
The board will not comment on Aitken’s salary until Monday.
Aitken says he will likely start next month if the board approves that contract.