Culver settles as interim director

By Thomas Wilson

Despite a slew of personnel vacancies to fill and a non-functioning office air conditioner, Richard Culver is settling into his role as interim director of Elizabethton City Schools.
"It has been a learning process with all the different personnel bringing me up to date on issues," said Culver, who began his new position on Monday. Culver was appointed interim director by the Elizabethton Board of Education last week to replace Dr. Judy Blevins who stepped down in June.
Blevins' resignation was scheduled to become effective July 29. However, the board voted 5-0 to buy out her remaining time last week to allow Culver to get on the job as quickly as possible.
A career educator, Culver taught mathematics for 10 years in the city system and served as principal of T.A. Dugger Junior High School for 7 years before retiring last year. He was also a teacher in the school systems of Carter and Johnson counties prior to joining the city system.
The move from retired educator to director of a system with more than 300 employees was a formidable one, Culver said. "It has been an adjustment these last two days," he said. "I haven't been alone for five minutes in this office for the past two days."
An immediate goal the system faces is filling several vacancies in teachers and system administrators, he said. Topping the list is finding a replacement for Richard Wilson who resigned as principal of West Side Elementary last month. The system posted the job opening this week for candidates. "We hope to have that job filled by the first of August," Culver said.
In addition to West Side, the system must also find a replacement for Rondald Taylor, former assistant director of schools, who announced his retirement in a letter to the board last week. Culver said he anticipated filling that position sometime after the school year begins in September.
Kim Lavin was appointed permanent director of special education by Blevins earlier this month replacing Carol Whaley.
Culver praised the work of the system's director of finance, Cynthia Roberts, for maintaining the system's financial health. "I've spent a great deal of time with the financial director, and the Elizabethton City School system is in great shape financially," he said.
Despite the turmoil the system faced earlier this year, Culver said he found morale high among system personnel and said he has enjoyed a warm welcome from old colleagues. He added that he and the board were negotiating his contract as interim director. He also reiterated that he had no interest in pursuing the job permanently.