Hamilton County school board members have voted to hire Dr. Bryan Johnson as the next superintendent of schools.

Dr. Johnson will have to accept the board's contract before the job is officially filled.

Dr. Johnson is currently the Chief Academic Officer of the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

Johnson beat out three other candidates for the job with five votes.

Dr. Steve Highlander announced Dr. Wayne Johnson withdrew his name from the running before the vote, citing personal reasons. Highlander further explained Johnson commended the board's interviewing process and that Johnson based his withdrawal on the needs of the school district. 

Here's how school board members voted:

  • Joe Galloway, District 6: Dr. Kirk Kelly 
  • Karitsa Jones, District 5: Dr. Kirk Kelly
  • Kathy Lennon: District 2: Dr. Kirk Kelly
  • Tiffanie Robinson, District 4: Dr. Bryan Johnson
  • Joe Smith, District 3: Dr. Bryan Johnson
  • David Testerman, District 8: Dr. Kirk Kelly
  • Rhonda Thurman, District 1: Dr. Bryan Johnson
  • Joe Wingate, District 7: Dr. Bryan Johnson
  • Dr. Steve Highlander, Board Chairman, District 9: Dr. Bryan Johnson

Rhonda Thurman, district 1, said Dr. Wayne Johnson was her number one pick. 

"It was like a kick in the gut. I just really wanted a true change and someone to come in and look at the school system and try to ring the budget in and see maybe how we could re-allocate some money, because we're not going to get any more money from the commission," said Thurman.  "I was just hoping that Wayne Johnson could hire Bryan Johnson that way we could have the best of both worlds a really good educator and a good businessman but that was just not meant to be."

Shock and some disappointment from community members set in after realizing Dr. Kirk Kelly only tallied four votes. Kelly has served as interim superintendent for the past year and has worked in the district for many more.

Joe Galloway, district 6, voted for Kelly. He tells Channel 3 he believes the county's desire for change motivated the results. 

"One of the things was the same ole same ole with Dr. Kelly. Well, they've got no excuse now," said Galloway. "People need to step up. The business leaders need to step up; anybody that's saying we need to make a change. We've made one. We all need to get behind this change and we need to do something for these kids to get them in the position where they can have the things they need for their schools." 

Many challenges await Dr. Bryan Johnson. Board members said they're looking forward to reconstructing central office and school funding, but the district's five low-performing schools top their priority list.     

"We just need to get public confidence back and get a fresh set of eyes on how we do things and maybe we can do things a little bit different little bit more efficient and effectively," said Thurman.

Change isn't easy, but board members are hoping the community will welcome Johnson as the district's new leader and help make a difference.     

"He mentioned it he's not looking to come in here and clean house he's looking to come in and work with people and make this a better place to not only be a part of a work scene but he wants to live here and I think he wants to stay," said Galloway. 

Johnson will be the fourth permanent superintendent to lead the merged district. 

After voting the superintendent vote, board members debated the length of the contract that will be offered to Johnson. 

They agreed on an up to four-year contract. 

Tiffanie Robinson, district 4, didn't agree with offering four years and suggested more time to discuss it. She admitted that she did not want to have to buy-out another superintendent. 

Scott Bennett, the school board attorney, said that the board has traditionally offered four-year contracts.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.