A month ago, Paul Hewitt was not being considered as Fayetteville's next superintendent, but now he has the job.
The Fayetteville School Board voted to hire Hewitt as its next superintendent Tuesday night, and the new hire has caught many by surprise, even Hewitt himself.
"Two months ago, if you said to me you were going to be the superintendent of Fayetteville Schools, I would have actually laughed," Hewitt said.
Hewitt was not among the 17 candidates who applied for the job by the school district's deadline last month. Hewitt said he advised neighbor and School Board President Tim Hudson during the search process. As the process neared its end, Hewitt realized he wanted the job.
"There was no intention of getting the job, but as we began to talk more and more about it, I became more and more excited," Hewitt said.
Hudson said Hewitt never submitted an application, but said his resume stood out above the rest.
"It would have been foolish of us not to have seriously considered him," he said. "I am glad we did and I am glad we have hired him."
Hewitt will begin his duties in July and plans to tackle big issues like the recent bomb threats.
"You've got to take every possible step to make sure your students are safe," Hewitt said. "You have to take every one of them seriously, and we will."
Hewitt said he will talk with the staff and community to determine what the district's needs are. Hewitt can not wait to get started in his new role, saying Fayetteville is his chosen home.
"If I can contribute in helping our schools move to the next level and move up a level and improve, I am excited to do that," he said.
Hewitt will begin his duties as superintendent on July 1. His transition with current superintendent Vicki Thomas will begin immediately.
Hudson said he anticipates signing a one-year contract worth about $200,000 for the year. Current superintendent Vicki Thomas has a $207,000 salary, according to the school district's website.
Hewitt began his career as a teacher in Los Angeles in 1969. He spent the next 38 years in education in California before moving on to a professor job at the University of Arkansas in 2007, according to his resume.