Davis said the average career span of an urban superintendent is about 2.8 years.
“It’s a high-stress, high-burnout job,” the Buckhead resident said. “This is not really my career. This is really sort of an accidental second public-service job.”
The bulk of Davis’ career was spent managing energy and utility companies. He previously served as CEO and president of Wisconsin Power and Light Co., WPL Holdings and Alliant Energy Corp. In 2006, Davis took office as chancellor of the University System of Georgia, which he considers his first public-service job.
Davis was asked to lead the school system on a temporary basis in 2011 during the search for a permanent superintendent.
“Three days after I got on the job, the largest cheating scandal in American education history broke, and the search just fell apart,” he said.
Davis said the main challenge he encountered throughout his three-year tenure was discovering how broken the school system was and how many people were in denial over it.
“I was astounded that so little was done really for the benefit of the children and that so many efforts had been expended of behalf of adults instead of children,” he said. “I tried to do, in the time I had, the things that I believe were necessary to get this ship headed in the right direction.”
Davis said some of the actions taken were closing schools to free up resources for other schools, stabilizing school clusters and implementing better education models.
He said what he will miss most after retiring is the people.
“The fun times have been going into schools, interacting with teachers and students,” Davis said.
While he has already tried retirement — first from the corporate business world and then from his chancellor post — Davis said he will not jump into running anything else this time around.
“I’m just going to relax now,” he said.
Davis said he is not used to having time off and hopes to pick up on old hobbies like road biking and working out.
However, his retirement will not be completely full of free time as Davis has commitments serving on the boards of General Motors, Union Pacific, PBS, Carnegie Mellon University and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and recently joined the National Academy of Sciences’ study on community resilience.
Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent for the Austin, Texas, school district, will replace him in July.