Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Buzz Thomas recommended for interim Knox Co. superintendent position

Buzz Thomas
Buzz Thomas, the head of the Great Schools Partnership, was nominated Monday night to serve as interim superintendent of Knox County Schools.

Board of Education member Terry Hill presented Thomas' name during a Knox County school board workshop.

About a half-dozen men had been identified as candidates, ranging from Thomas to several current schools administrators.

By agreement, board members are to formally vote Wednesday on Thomas' nomination.

Hill said she thought there was no better supporter of the school system than Thomas. She said he thought he could step away from his job to be the interim leader.

"Buzz is already a part of the leadership team for Knox County Schools so he has an in-depth knowledge of our system, even though he hasn't been an employee," Hill added.

Board members Gloria Deathridge, Lynne Fugate and board chair Doug Harris said they plan to support the nomination.

"He's got a great resume," Harris said. "He's got a lot of experience. He knows our school system and knows a lot of the players involved."

Hill reviewed nominated candidates in preparation for Monday's meeting.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre is leaving the school system in July.

Besides Thomas, other men who were nominated included Bob Thomas, a Knox County Schools assistant superintendent; Rodney Russell, director of human capital strategy at KCS; and Danny Trent, KCS secondary supervisor.

As part of the selection process, Hill interviewed candidates.

By agreement, Harris would have until April 17 to negotiate a contract with Thomas.

By policy, the person chosen for the interim role is not expected to be a candidate for permanent superintendent.  The search for a long-term leader could take up to a year and is expected to begin in September, after new school members are elected and seated.

Board members have said they want an interim leader who cares about children and who is familiar with the school system’s budget, schools and staff.

Last month, McIntyre proposed a general purpose budget of $453.5 million, an increase of $15.5 million or nearly 4 percent from the current fiscal year. The board will vote on the budget in April.

The system is composed of 90 schools and a 7,500 person workforce that includes about 5,000 teachers.

The Knox County BOE hired McIntyre in the spring of 2008, after a year-long process that included whittling down a list of 40 candidates to a handful of finalists.

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