The search is on

Divided board opts for TSBA search service

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   On Monday, the Elizabethton Board of Education voted 3-2 to employ the assistance of the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) in selecting a new director of schools.
   Board member, Dr. Jonathan Bremer, made the motion to use TSBA's Superintendent Search Service to find a replacement for ex-director, Dr. Judy Blevins. Bremer recommended using the TSBA's Plan Two search at a cost of $7,500.
   According to the search service model, a TSBA consultant conducts an initial meeting with the board to discuss its options and explain the Superintendent Search Service. The search service includes advertising the vacancy, developing an employment contract, scheduling interview dates, providing interview guides for the board, performing background checks, and even negotiating the board's contract with the candidate.
   One of three TSBA search options, Level Two includes conducting up to 10 meetings with community groups, conducting individual interviews with each board member and recommending criteria to be adopted by a board of education.
   Previously, a search committee comprised of two members of the school board, a teacher, one parent and an educational consultant and a representative of the Elizabethton Education Association teachers' union accepted applications and reviewed candidates. Board members also agreed specifying inclusion of local and regional candidates in the search process.
   Board member Bob Berry recommended the committee include one person chosen by each board member. "I think all of us need to be involved," said Berry who opposed using TSBA to select the director.
   TSBA estimates a complete search generally takes 4 to 6 months from announcement to employment. Past TSBA searches resulted in the system losing Dr. Dale Lynch and Dr. Judy Blevins to other school systems. Lynch left the system after being recruited to become director of Hamblen County schools, while Blevins was selected as director of Campbell County schools. Richard Culver was named interim director by the board earlier this month.
   "I have trouble spending money with someone who has stolen our last two directors," said Dr. Bob Sams, ECS board chairman. Bremer, Armstrong, and vice chair, Judy Richardson voted yes to use TSBA while Sams joined Berry in voting no.
   The board also voted 5-0 to approve spending $148,000 to replace the fire alarm system at Elizabethton High School. Jeff Lyons of Johnson Controls, Inc. presented the proposal to the board to remove the existing system, install new alarm devices, and rewire the school to accommodate the new system.
   The high school's existing Simplex fire alarm system was installed when the high school was built almost 30 years ago, Lyons said. ECS director of maintenance, Richard Hodge, said representatives of Simplex had advised him parts were no longer available to repair and upgrade the system.
   Hodge said the high school only had "5 or 6 zone" areas where a fire could be detected and the alarm activated. He said each classroom needed a detection point provided by the new system. "It is important for each zone to detect if there is a problem," Hodge said.
   Lyons said he expected the system to be installed in 90 days once work began. Hodge and the city fire marshal must approve the work before the project would be completed. Funds for the new alarm are expected to come from existing capital reserve.
   "Hopefully we will have a little bit of capital money (in) reserve for this project," said Cynthia Roberts, ECS director of finance.