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East Texas native named lone finalist for Kilgore ISD chief

By Glenn Evans
Feb. 25, 2013 at 10 p.m.

KILGORE - A 25-year educator who got her start in East Texas is slated to lead the Kilgore Bulldogs after school trustees on Monday selected Cara Cooke of Rockport as superintendent finalist.

"This has been the hardest decision I think we can all say that we have made," Board President Janet Marley said shortly before the board voted 6-1 to name Cooke its lone finalist from among 32 applicants who vied to succeed Jody Clements.

Clements left in August for an assistant superintendency with Longview ISD.

Monday's decision was not to hire Cooke. School trustees by law must announce a finalist or short list 21 days before hiring a superintendent.

Trustee Reggie Henson declined after the vote to say why he cast the lone dissension on Cooke.

"No comment," Henson said, declining to elaborate when pressed.

Cooke most recently has been working with the West Oso ISD in Corpus Christi as assistant superintendent. Before that she worked five years as assistant superintendent for Industrial ISD in South Texas, a district named exemplary during 2009 and 2010.

Cooke is a native East Texan and a 1982 graduate of Neches High School in Anderson County, a 1A school. Her teaching career began in nearby Palestine, and she later served as principal of Neches Elementary.

Cooke and her husband of 30 years, Richard, are parents of 25-year-old twins.

She is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.

Thirty-two people applied for the superintendent post. The board opted out of the expense of a professional search team, conducting its own hunt with advertisements in professional publications and public postings.

Trustees pored over resumes during four meetings, narrowing their field two weeks ago to four. Cooke was not at Monday's meeting.



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