Leaders chose Dr. James "Jim" Merrill from Virginia Beach at a meeting Tuesday evening. All but two board members voted for Merrill.
Merrill served as superintendent of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, the third largest school division in Virginia, since 2006. Prior to that he served six years as superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System.
Previously, Merrill spent 16 years in the Wake County Public School System, last serving as Associate Superintendent for Administration and Finance. He began his career in 1973 as an English teacher.
"I think a lot of my educational philosophy and my sense of what's right for kids came from my years in Wake County," said Merrill. "I took that with me to other places. I've learned other things. I think I can bring new thoughts back to Wake County in terms of my experience."
Merrill beat out two other candidates -- Dr. Dana Bedden of Irving, Texas and Ann Clark from Charlotte.
In all, 23 candidates applied for the position. The board chose four as semi-finalists and then narrowed the list to three.
Merrill starts August 1.