ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Pinellas County school board members named Kevin Hendrick the school district’s new superintendent on Tuesday.

Hendrick is currently the associate superintendent of teaching and learning services. He’s occupied that position since June of 2017.

Hendrick was one of three finalists for the superintendent position. The two other candidates were Dr. Ann Hembrook, who works as an area superintendent of schools in Marion County, and Michael Ramirez, who is a deputy superintendent of schools in Denver, Colorado.

School Board Chair Eileen Long says it wasn’t an easy decision. Long says all three candidates were quite qualified.

“I tried to keep an open mind, I wanted to get to know all three candidates and I will tell you, my one-on-ones, I really got to know all three,” said Long. “They were all phenomenal. I like their personalities, I liked their ideas of how they would lead Pinellas.”

During the special meeting, board members said they had very little input from parents and the public on their decision for a replacement for Dr. Michael Grego, who informed board members he was retiring. They said a majority of the feedback they received was from teachers, who overwhelmingly felt Hendrick was the best candidate to take the helm of the district.

Long, who spent decades as a teacher, agreed.

“Between his personality and knowing that the teachers need smooth, calm – that’s what children need,” said Long. “They don’t need this uproar, and I believe we hit a home run today.”

Kevin Hendrick appears before school board members, thanking them for their confidence.

Hendrick appeared before the board and thanked members for their confidence. After board members adjourned the meeting, he was greeted with hugs and handshakes from colleagues.

He spoke with reporters shortly after the meeting, saying he is up to the challenge.

“Anytime you start something new, you need to do a good job, so be prepared,” said Hendrick. “So yes, I’m nervous about it all but I’m also confident about it all. We all do those things. We want to do the best, so we overprepare, and overprepare and overprepare and make sure we are ready.”

Board members still have to negotiate a contract with the new superintendent. His projected start date is July 1, 2022.