Committee meets to begin search for city Director of Schools

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
Local educators and administrators along with representatives from the community met Thursday evening to discuss what kinds of qualities should be emphasized during the search for a new director of schools for the Elizabethton City School System.
Among the qualities that the committee, which was created in accordance with Board of Education policy to aid in the search for the director, listed as important were previous experience as not only an administrator but also as an educator and good communications skills.
At the BOE's meeting on July 28, the Board voted to utilize the Superintendent Search Service provided by the Tennessee School Boards Association. Members of the committee met with Randall Bennett, who is a legal counsel with TSBA and is assigned to aid the BOE in the search and selection of the new director of schools.
"What we're trying to do here is get some input on what people would like to see in a Director of Schools," Bennett said.
Bennett explained to members of the search committee that the TSBA was meeting with them in order to find out what kinds of criteria were important to educators and members of the community. After gathering information from the committee, he said, the TSBA would present that information to the BOE at a meeting on Sept. 9 for the Board to review that criteria and approve the posting of the position.
After the TSBA posts the job opening, Bennett said he would return to the Board on Oct. 16 with a list of candidates which the TSBA feels meets the criteria the Board was looking for.
"This is an expedited process. We're trying to get this done as quickly as possible," Bennett said. "Hopefully by the first of December that person (who is selected by the Board to be Director) will be in place."
During the meeting, Bennett asked the members of the committee to consider what elements of the school system they thought were good and did not want to see changed. Members of the committee pointed to good test scores, quality teachers, good facilities and support from the community and local government.
Then committee members were asked to discuss some of the things they would like to see done differently in the school system. Among the things committee members said they would like to see accomplished were an increase in the focus on performing arts, offering a secondary language in the elementary schools and maintaining teacher benefits and raising teacher salaries in order to attract and maintain quality teachers.
Bennett had committee members fill out a survey ranking the importance of several criteria in selecting a director. On the survey, members of the committee ranked successful experience as an administrator and an educator as well as the ability to manage a budget and other financial matters as being important.
Sensitivity to cultural diversity and good communication skills with both the Board and the community were also ranked high on the list. All of the members of the committee ranked finding a person who was not connected to a local political faction as being either very important or essential in the selection of the new Director of Schools.