BOE mulls director finalists

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton Board of Education is expected to narrow the four-candidate field down to two finalists for the director of schools position later this month. Guy G. Fisher, Richard McInturf, John D. Payne, and David S. Roper are the four men vying to become the next director of Elizabethton City Schools.
   Board Chairman Dr. Robert Sams said Monday board members would submit their two finalists some time in the near future. A board meeting would then be called to determine the two finalists, he said.
   A survey conducted of Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) put 25 items of qualification to system teachers, principals, central office staff, community leaders and a mostly board-appointed community screening committee the opportunity to prioritize the next director's characteristics. TSBA members met with all five groups while compiling the survey.
   All five ranked items pertaining to effective communication and listening ability among the most sought after qualities of the next director. Both teachers and principals ranked a candidates classroom teaching experience high on their survey results.
   Central office staff and the community screening committee want the next director to be free of influence by Elizabethton political factions with both groups ranking no political connections in their top three criteria.
   Payne lists one year of classroom teaching experience while McInturf has had no classroom teaching experience. Fisher spent three years as a teacher at the junior high and high school level while Roper listed one year as a 7th-grade teacher at Hueytown Academy in Hueytown, Ala.
   School personnel also rated the ability to adapt to change and a commitment to long-range planning as important leadership characteristics for the system's next director. All five groups listed previous experience as a superintendent near the bottom of the 25 characteristics.
   According to TSBA's interim report, principals and teachers also wanted a director who could maintain unity between administrators.
   Fisher presently serves as director of human resources with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. Prior to that, he was director of secondary education with the system. Fisher spent 25 years in the Alaska public education system as a teacher and administrator at several elementary and high schools in Alaska. He became principal of Montgomery Central High School in 1997 and later became director of special education with the system.
   McInturf has served as supervisor of federal programs and staff development with Bristol Tennessee City Schools since 1998. Since joining that system in 1990, he has also served as the system's supervisor of elementary education and was principal of Haynesfield Elementary School from 1995 to 1998. He began his career in education as reading project coordinator with the Johnson City School System.
   Payne is the former superintendent of both the Unicoi County and Johnson County school systems. He was principal of Johnson County High School and other administrative offices with the Johnson County system before serving as that system's superintendent from 1984 to 1992. He served as director of business and finance with Elizabethton City Schools from 1993 to 1995. He retired in July as director of schools with Unicoi County after that county's board of education refused to renew his contract.
   Roper, of Roanoke, Ala., has been superintendent of Roanoke City Schools since 1999. He came to that school system after more than 20 years with the Birmingham City Schools. Roper's professional experience is weighted to curriculum and special projects, as well as counseling and student evaluations. He holds professional certifications from the state of Alabama as a superintendent, teacher, and counselor.
   If the board sticks to the parameters set forth by the Tennessee School Boards Association, they could make a final selection by mid-November. Sams said a called meeting may not be needed to choose the next director.
   "It might be at a regular meeting maybe," he said.