Superintendent of Gwinnett school district says he won’t seek contract renewal

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks gives a state of the schools address at the Infinite Energy Center Gwinnett on Sept. 11, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

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Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks gives a state of the schools address at the Infinite Energy Center Gwinnett on Sept. 11, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, who leads Gwinnett County Public Schools, said Thursday that he would not seek a renewal of his contract, which ends June 30, 2022.

His statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution comes a day after the school board met for nearly three hours in closed session to discuss his contract.

“I work at the pleasure of the board,” Wilbanks’ statement said. “Should they decide they want me to stay until June 30, 2022, I am prepared to honor my contract.”

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The board can terminate the contract at will with 90 days written notice, but would have to pay him for the remainder of the contract or one year’s salary, whichever is less.

“We’ll continue conversation over the next several weeks,” Chair Everton Blair said after Wednesday’s board meeting, declining to comment further.

Wilbanks, 78, took the reins of Georgia’s largest and most diverse school system 25 years ago this month. He is the highest paid superintendent in Georgia, with a base salary of nearly $381,000 and a list of contractual supplements, allowances and reimbursements that boosted his pay above $621,000 last fiscal year.

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He first told the school board in December that this contract term would most likely be his last, said Sloan Roach, school district spokeswoman. Two of the current board members had not taken office at the time.

Wilbanks is credited with leading Gwinnett County Public Schools to national acclaim for student performance. But he also faced a series of controversies over the years, most recently for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and discipline policies.

“If the decision is made for me to leave earlier, that is their decision to make,” Wilbanks statement to the AJC said. “I enjoy coming to work every day and remain committed to serving the students, staff, families, and community of Gwinnett County.”

Roach said discussing Wilbanks’ contract now will give the board time to plan for hiring his replacement.

Wilbanks is the country’s longest-serving large school district superintendent, according to the Council of the Great City Schools. The Gwinnett school district is the country’s 13th largest.