County BOE begins discussion on search for new director

Published 1:51 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

Following an announcement by Carter County Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward that he will retire at the end of the current school year, members of the Carter County Board of Education are now beginning to discuss how the Board will begin the search for Ward’s successor.

Members of the Board held a workshop session Thursday afternoon to begin looking at the options they have in searching for a new director of schools.

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“I think we need to get some options and start pursuing,” said Board member Tony Garland.

Garland provided his fellow Board members with some information he had obtained regarding the Superintendent Search Service provided by the Tennessee School Board Association. He said he had been in contact with someone from the TSBA program who was willing to speak to the board about the services offered and how the TSBA can help in the search for a new director.

According to information provided by the TSBA, “The Superintendent Search Service offers maximum flexibility to the Board and assures the Board has total control of the decision-making process. The search consultant performs the legwork associated with the search, allowing the Board to concentrate on the most critical steps in the search — setting the criteria, interviewing the most qualified candidates and selecting the next superintendent.”

The Superintendent Search Service offers two different plan levels for school systems to choose from with prices ranging from $6,500 to $11,500 for the program.

Garland said with the program the Board will set the criteria and qualifications they are working for and will have control over the whole process.

Board member LaDonna Stout Boone works in the Johnson City School System, which she said recently went through the process of searching for a new superintendent using the TSBA program. Boone offered praise for the TSBA service in their work with the Johnson City School System.

“You’re quality systems go this route,” Boone said of using the TSBA Search Service.

Board member Kelly Crain said he feels the Board must first decide what it is looking for before contracting with a search service.

“Are we going to automatically go out national or are we going to look at our own means first,” Crain asked. “I would like to have someone from our area that knows us, that knows how we are, the people we are.”

Boone said the TSBA service will allow the Board to decide where they want the search to be conducted and while she supports looking locally, she feels the Board doesn’t need to over limit itself.

“We need to get the best person we can and make sure our search is large enough to get a good group of applicants,” Boone said. “We need to make our talent pool as deep as we can.”

Board Vice-Chairman Craig Davis noted that three of the Board’s eight members had been unable to attend Thursday’s workshop session and said he feels the whole Board should be involved in guiding the search.

Davis said the Board should also consider the length of the contract term as part of the search for a new director, saying a four-year contract might draw more applicants than a two-year contract.

While no decisions could be made during the workshop session, all of the Board members present voiced their support for getting started on the search as quickly as possible.

“It is a minimum of a six-month process,” Garland said. “I just don’t want to wait until too late.”

Board Chairman Rusty Barnett tendered his resignation to the Board following the group’s official meeting on August 16. His resignation will be effective August 31 as Barnett is set to take over the position of Carter County Mayor on Sept. 1.

Members of the Carter County Commission are set to appoint Barnett’s replacement to the Board during their meeting on Sept. 17.

During the workshop session, Board of Education members agreed the Board should begin serious talks about the search once that appointment is made.