Friday, April 15, 2016

Thomas says he will do more than keep seat warm as interim superintendent

Buzz Thomas
Soon-to-be interim KCS Superintendent Buzz Thomas says he will be more than just a placeholder when he takes over the Knox County school system beginning in July.

In fact, Thomas said, he’s “not afraid” to make changes that could lead to “trimming some bureaucracy (and) investing more in classrooms.”

“I always think there are improvements that can be made and we’ll try to do that,” Thomas told WBIR 10News. “I said the other day, we’re not going to circle the airport for the next six to 12 months. We’re going to continue the journey. We’ve been on an upward projector, but not upward enough. So, we need to improve at a faster pace . . .  .”

Thomas will begin serving as interim superintendent July 9. Current Superintendent Jim McIntyre announced in January that he would step down this summer.

Thomas, who is currently the president of the non-profit Great Schools Partnership, is the guest on Sunday’s “Inside Tennessee,” WBIR’s political and public affairs program, which airs at 9:30 a.m.

During Sunday’s discussion, Thomas touches on a wide range of topics, including plans to boost teacher morale, a renewed focus on student reading levels, whether the next superintendent should have teaching experience and if he’s interested in the job on a permanent basis.

“I think we’ve gotten into two camps for lack of a better term,” he said. “We’ve got the pro-teacher camp and then you’ve got the pro-student achievement camp and they’re over there looking at test scores and if kids are making better (grades) on the ACT. Here’s the truth: All of us want both things.
Is there anybody who doesn’t want kids to achieve and learn so that they have a successful future? And is there anybody who doesn’t want our teachers to be happy? We want teacher morale to be high.”

Thomas added: “You want kids to learn and teachers to enjoy coming to work every day. And I think we can do that but we’ve got to get past the personality and the politics and refocus on the work”

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