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Meet the Berkeley County superintendent finalists

Photo Source: AP Photo Source: AP
BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - This week the three finalists for the Berkeley County School Superintendent are in town. 

The district has told us who they are, but they haven't made the candidates available for the media to question them.

So after doing a little digging and talking with reporters, former school board members, and newspaper accounts we've come up with a little background information on each candidate.

Dr. Rocky Killion was named Indiana Superintendent of the Year for 2015.

For eight years he's been the leader of West Lafayette Schools, a system that has 2200 students (Berkeley Co has more than 14x that many students - 31,000).

Newspaper accounts show that he successfully spearheaded a tax referendum that cushioned the lack of state funding. He's a vocal critic of standardized testing. 

He's been on Twitter since 2009 and has made 0 tweets since then.

Earlier this year his school district faced criticism from the state over providing access to public records.

Dr. Barry Shepherd had been the head of Cabarrus County Schools since 2008. 

He announced that he was retiring from the district to spend time with his family earlier this year; now he's a finalist in Berkeley County.

Cabarrus County is similar in size and growth to Berkeley County with 25,000 kids.

A former school board member says when Shepherd arrived the graduation rate was 74.7, when he left it was 88.1.

That same board member said, Shepherd "doesn't mind spending money" but he also admitted the money was well spent and that Shepherd was a good steward of finances. 

Shepherd's not very active on twitter either. He's been on since 2009 and has twice tweeted.

One other thing that Shepherd gets credit for is hiring Dr. Jason Van Heukelem and today both men are competing for the same job. 

Board members in Cabarrus County describe Dr. Van Heukelem as a "very smart man!" extremely organized and forward thinking.

Interestingly though, when Dr. Shepherd stepped down, Van Heukelem wasn't chosen as the interim leader for the district. He's credited with helping start a dual language immersion program.  

Van Heukelem is fluent in twitter. He's only been on since 2012, but has tweeted nearly 1300 times.

Cabarrus County board members were complimentary of both Shepherd and Van Heukelem, and most were hesitant to choose one. 

Lynn Shue, a former school board chairman, said if he had to choose, he would probably give Van Heukelum a slight edge. 

He says Shepherd is of retirement age and has already done so once before. He says he felt that the district would get more years out of Van Heukelem.

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