Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nine apply to be Knox County Schools superintendent; deadline is Friday

With a Friday deadline looming, Knox County school board members say they’d like to see more candidates apply to be the next superintendent.

As of Monday, nine people have put their names in to lead the district of some 59,500 students and 8,000 employees.

Board members briefly discussed at a workshop Monday night details of the application process.

Member Amber Rountree is overseeing the search on a mini-committee that consists of her, Tony Norman and Susan Horn. Rountree says she’s not ready yet to end the process right now.

“I would like to see some more folks and I have heard there are more folks planning to apply, and they just haven’t gotten their material together,” she said.

On the morning of Jan. 17, the three-member search committee is scheduled to look at who has applied. Rountree says the goal is to identify perhaps five solid candidates from among all who have applied and go from there.

Applicants so far include people who have overseen smaller districts and some charter schools.

“I like how the process is going so far and I’m not discouraged at all,” Norman told 10News. “Some are a little bit (discouraged) in the slow response, a little bit of a slow response. But I think we’ll have several right here at the end.”

Board members aim to offer somewhere between $200,000 and $240,000 a year for the position. Norman said it’s possible the market might demand more for such a leadership position, but he also thinks someone making an annual salary of $240,000 would be very comfortable in East Tennessee.

Board member Lynne Fugate on Monday night expressed concerns whether $240,000 would be adequate to draw the kind of candidate they’re looking for.

It’s possible the search committee could come back to the board with a recommendation that the search process continue.

“While we do have a timeline, the board is most focused on finding the best leader for Knox County Schools," Rountree said. "So, if we do have to take some additional time to do so, we’re willing to do that. We don’t want to rush into a decision. We want the very best person to lead our district to make our schools the best in the South.”

Buzz Thomas of the Great Schools Partnership has agreed to serve as interim leader until this summer. Superintendent Jim McIntyre left the system last summer after about eight years.

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