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The Smackover-Norphlet Board of Directors held a special called meeting June 5, where the board accepted Superintendent Dave Wilcox’s resignation.

Jennifer Lee, Smackover school district curriculum director, said that during the meeting the school board hired John Gross to be the superintendent for the 2018-19 school year.

Gross was the superintendent of the Parkers Chapel school district for 43 years until his retirement in 2013.

Wilcox was with the Smackover-Norphlet school district for five years. Lee said his first year was when the two districts went before the state board to request the annexation of Norphlet School District into Smackover School District.

When the merger happened, Gross helped them work through the consolidation and the reorganization process.

“I made a lot of friends and met a lot of people through that,” Gross said.

Gross said when the districts reached out to him for help during the merger, “that was a really hard time in my life.”

“They helped me so much and I just wanted to help them in anyway that I could, so when they called and asked me to (be superintendent) I didn’t hesitate to say yes,” Gross said.

Lee said her and her colleagues were all very surprised when Wilcox resigned.

According to both Lee and Gross, Wilcox resigned to move back to Texas to be closer with family, as his parents are getting older.

As of press time Thursday, Wilcox had not responded to emails sent by News-Times staff.

“We’re disappointed to see him go,” Lee said. “We would have loved for him to stay, but he sure did do a lot for our school district.”

Gross said he will stay until the district is able to find another superintendent. He said the district will start the superintendent search in January.

“It’s a pretty rigorous and long and drown out process,” Gross said, noting all of the interviews and committee meetings that will be held. “Hopefully they will have somebody by this time next year to be the new superintendent.”

“(Gross) is a well respected superintendent who we are very fortunate to have come back to serve our school district,” Lee said.

Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or

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