Kingsport Times-News: Hawkins BOE follows Kingsport's lead in choosing director search consultant

Hawkins BOE follows Kingsport's lead in choosing director search consultant

Jeff Bobo • May 9, 2018 at 4:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to hire the same consultant who helped choose Dr. Jeff Moorehouse as the next Kingsport City Schools director to find a replacement for Steve Starnes.

The BOE discussed three options prior to its budget workshop including the Tennessee School Boards Association, which was hired for the county’s 20014 director search; Ray and Associates of Hendersonville; and Kingsport’s most recent consultant, Wayne Qualls.

Board member Chris Christian noted that he was dissatisfied with the TSBA in 2014.

Initially, the TSBA recommended a director candidate in 2014 who had been demoted from a county school principal position and had been in a dispute with the school system over that demotion.

The TSBA offered two plans, including $6,500 for an extensive advertising process, checking references, scheduling candidate and finalist interviews, and assisting in contract negotiation, among other services.

For an extra $5,000, the TSBA would also organize community meetings, among other services.

Ray and Associates quoted a price of $18,000 for its director search.

Qualls conducted the search for KCS and recommended Dr. Jeff Moorehouse. Qualls is currently conducting a director search for Tullahoma, but he indicated to BOE Chairman Bob Larkins that he is available.

Qualls’ fee is $6,000, plus expenses. Kingsport paid him a total of $6,940.

Another option discussed by the BOE was to conduct its own search, Vice Chair Debbie Shedden noted some board members have jobs and other obligations.

She said it would be better to involve a firm that’s not form the community that can provide an objective search.

Tecky Hicks said he would like the BOE to take its time choosing a new director and hold meetings seeking public input on what the community wants from its director to establish a search criteria.

“How are the (consultants) going to know what to look for if we don’t tell them what to look for?” Hicks asked.

Larkins said, “Firms will sit down with us and we will work out what we are looking for in an individual, and we will get feedback from the community, what they’re seeking, for a director of schools. They’ll help us develop that credential list.”

The school board election is Aug. 2, and state law prohibits the hiring of a director 45 days before an election and 30 days after an election.

Starnes, who has served as Hawkins County’s director since 2014, takes over as Greeneville City Schools’ director on June 1. Assistant Director Reba Bailey was appointed last week to fill in for Starnes until a permanent director is hired. 


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