The McCracken County Board of Education has selected the district's next leader following a three-month search.
Lyon County Superintendent Quin Sutton received the school board's approval Thursday night at the board office. Board members interviewed him Tuesday night, then unanimously supported his selection, Chairman Jeff Parker said.
The board met with the screening committee last week to receive the list of finalists. Sutton will succeed Nancy Waldrop.
"We were so impressed with him, we knew we had the right person," Parker said. "We've done great things with Dr. Waldrop and are excited to keep going in the right direction with our next leader."
Board member Michael Hatton praised Sutton for his emphasis on putting students first.
"We had a great interview, and every other word out of his mouth was about the children," Hatton said. "He demonstrated a love for children, and that is the kind of person for this job."
During the meeting Thursday, board members also thanked the hard work of the search committee and Waldrop, who announced in December that she would not seek a new contract when hers expires June 30.
Sutton's four-year agreement will begin July 1, and his salary will be $145,000 per year, the same as Waldrop's.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to lead such a progressive and high-achieving district," Sutton said. "It's just outstanding in academics, athletics, fine arts and strives to be the top in western Kentucky and in the entire state."
He submitted his resignation to the Lyon County school board Thursday prior to the McCracken County meeting. He is in the middle of a four-year contract that was set to continue until June 30, 2016, at an annual salary of $105,000. Sutton became Lyon superintendent in 2008.
He said the decision to leave was bittersweet but the McCracken job presented an opportunity that he couldn't pass up.
"Lyon County is a distinguished district with very sound academics, and it's sad to leave," he said. "Every day I acted in the best interests of the kids."
Following his graduation from Lyon County High School, Sutton taught, worked in administration and in athletics in the Lyon district for nine years. He then went to the Caldwell County school system and served as assistant superintendent/director of pupil personnel from 2005 to 2008 before returning to Lyon.
He emphasized that as someone who has worked his way up in nearly every job within the school system, including coach and bus driver, he brings a varied perspective to the position.
"I've seen every aspect of the system on a day-to-day basis and really understand what it takes to run a school and a district," he said. "As a leader, I plan to always bring a team approach to decision making."
Sutton said his immediate goals are meeting the central office, building administration, and faculty and staff members.
He also plans to be active and present in schools, extracurricular and civic activities to foster community-wide connections. Parker said during the hiring process that someone with a strong presence throughout the community was one of the key elements for the position.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.