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Aitken hired as Collierville Schools' first superintendent

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New Collierville Municipal Schools Superintendent John Aitken (Sarah Bleau / FOX!3 News) New Collierville Municipal Schools Superintendent John Aitken (Sarah Bleau / FOX!3 News)
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COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Collierville Municipal Schools Board of Education officially hired John Aitken to be the district's first superintendent during a specially called meeting Monday.

Aitken agreed to a three-year contract with the school district. His first day as superintendent starts Jan. 1 and lasts through June 30, 2017, the end of the 2016-17 school year.

MORE: John Aitken commits as Collierville superintendent

New board members Kevin Vaughan, Wanda Chism, Mark Hansen, Cathy Messerly, and Wright Cox voted unanimously to hire the Collierville resident.

DOWNLOAD: Read John Aitken's contract agreement with Collierville Municipal Schools

He'll be making $185,000 annually, and is entitled to an annual $15,000 bonus depending on his review.

"This challenge was one that was hard to turn down and as I sit in there I'm actually honored and humbled because this is the first one in Collierville Schools and first superintendent of this school district," Aitken said.

The 55-year-old former superintendent with Shelby County Schools, committed with CMS on Thursday, but was not officially hired by the school district until Monday.

Aitken already has a 30-day and 120-day plan in the works for Collierville schools. His 30-day plan includes hiring key central office personnel including finance and human resources.

"I've had some preliminary talks and I've gotten calls, quite honestly," the new superintendent said. "I think that's an advantage I have of being in the business as long as I have. I've gotten calls from people in this area and across the state who'd be really interested in working here. It's challenging work but I think a lot of people look at this as possibly a legacy to leave in their careers."

Aitken has been consultant to a number of the municipal school districts, including Collierville.

Collierville and three other suburbs were trying to lure Aitken: Germantown, Arlington, and Lakeland. He served as SCS superintendent until March when he sought a buyout from the unified school board.

MORE: 4 suburbs trying to lure former superintendent Aitken
MORE: Aitken leaves education window open
MORE: Suburbs eyeing former Superintendent Aitken
MORE: SCS board approves buyout of Superintendent Aitken

Aitken had served in the county system for 30 years, including the superintendent role since 2009. In 2012 Aitken was recognized as Superintendent of the Year for the State of Tennessee. SCS' board approved a $320,000 buyout in March of Aitken's superintendent contract. The buyout was at Aitken's request.

In an interview with FOX13 News a few weeks after the SCS board approved his buyout as superintendent, Aitken said he was considering leaving the door window open to get back into the education system. He remained as an advisor with SCS until May 31 after his requested buyout.

In November, the city of Collierville agreed with Shelby County Schools to end the municipal schools lawsuit. Collierville will pay $6 million over 12 years to resolve the lawsuit that sought to stop the suburbs from creating municipal school districts.

Four of the five other county suburbs are in the process or interviewing superintendent candidates. Germantown has three candidates and they'll be interviewing this week. Bartlett will be interviewing superintendent candidates this week as well and will make a decision by Friday, Dec. 20.

Arlington is in the process of interviewing four candidates during a meeting slated for Dec. 20. Lakeland is also in the process of interviewing four candidates.

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FOX13 News reporter Sarah Bleau contributed to this report.

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