Superintendent Bob Morrison says that in some ways he's stepping in to the future as he prepares to leave Mansfield for the Garland school district.Garland has an International Baccalaureate, an orchestra program that starts in fourth grade and a program that can provide two years of college credit in high school, among other offerings Mansfield doesn't have -- yet."Basically, a lot of things that Mansfield will be getting over the next three to five years as it grows, Garland is already getting," Morrison said Monday. "We're not there yet."Morrison, who has been superintendent for four years, was named sole finalist for Garland's superintendent post on Thursday.The Garland school board's 6-0 vote followed a brief closed session and concluded a four-month search that was kept under wraps until the announcement.Morrison would fill the vacancy left by Curtis Culwell, who retired Dec. 21 after 14 years as Garland's superintendent and a 37-year career in public education."It's not necessarily wanting to leave Mansfield," said Morrison, 49, whose wife, Beth, is a high school counselor and three daughters attend Mansfield schools. "It's just that Garland was an opportunity for me to extend my professional growth. And it was a good fit for my family."Now that the board has announced its choice, it must wait at least 21 days before offering Morrison a contract, according to state law.Morrison said the statute allows superintendents and school boards to negotiate a contract during the waiting period, but he declined to give financial details. He acknowledged that his new job isn't final until the contract is signed but doesn't expect any obstacles."You would hope things would work out," he said. "I don't anticipate that it's not going to work out."Morrison said he has 2 1/2 more years on his contract with Mansfield but said he expects to be released from it with no squabbling over money."There's no financial thing, like they have to pay me for 2 1/2 years," he said. "It's not like football or baseball."Mansfield school board president Beth Light said trustees will talk about Morrison's departure at their Feb. 5 work session."During executive session we will discuss the transition period, which will include the date he will be released from his contract," Light said in an email to the News-Mirror.News that Morrison would be leaving the district apparently caught most by surprise, including Mansfield district spokesman Richie Escovedo."I got it late this afternoon, and my job at this point is to communicate it," Escovedo said Thursday after the Garland board's 5:30 p.m. special meeting."Garland district spokesman Chris Moore said the trustees "have really done an excellent job to maintain anonymity for those folks who applied," who he said included about 30 people. The board hired a consulting firm to interview candidates and help trustees narrow the choices."I'm not quite sure how they managed that number down," Moore said. "They did have one round of interviews, then narrowed it down to one finalist."The Garland district, the second largest in Dallas County, has 58,000 students and 71 campuses, compared with about 32,000 students and 41 campuses in Mansfield.Morrison came to Mansfield in 2003 as director of student services. He was deputy superintendent when he was appointed to replace Superintendent Vernon Newsom in January 2009, as Newsom was planning to retire in June that year. He was killed in a motorcycle accident a month into his retirement.Light praised Morrison's leadership."He followed a very popular superintendent who had been there a long time," Light said.But the district never skipped a beat, she added."Bob had a great vision for our district and implemented many innovative programs," she said. "His ability to recruit great talent is amazing."Moore said Culwell's final base salary was $284,000.Light said Morrison's base salary was $227,000. Newsom's base pay was $238,500 when he retired, according to a Star-Telegram report in January 2009."Since we promoted him, he didn't make what Vernon Newsom was making," Light said. "And Bob had never been a superintendent before."Morrison leaves just as the school district is implementing its $6.5 million integration of iPads and digital-based learning strategies at the high schools.Mansfield opened its fifth high school, Lake Ridge, and the $41.5 million Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts in August. Morrison also led the district's development of a $198.5 million bond program that was overwhelmingly approved in November 2011.He's proud of all, but he said his favorite was getting the school curriculum online for the public."Parents can access that and see what things (their students) are learning," he said.He stressed that credit belongs to Associate Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas for the curriculum improvements and Assistant Superintendent Doug Brubaker for the tech advancements."You can sit down and talk," Morrison said. "But without those people, those things don't happen."During his tenure, Morrison also made some difficult cuts to compensate for drastic reductions in state funding over the past couple of years. One measure changed the district's block scheduling, switching from an alternating-day schedule to a traditional daily class schedule.Morrison, who was a high school principal in Edmond, Okla., before coming to Mansfield, said he believes his district is headed in Garland's direction. He expects the district will start an orchestra program soon."That's one of the reasons we built the Center for the Performing Arts," he said.He admires Garland's college-credit program, Lakeview Centennial College and Career Magnet school."When you graduate from high school, you have your associate's degree and you're a junior in college," Morrison said.