"We have three quality applicants. That's for sure," Director of Schools Richard Bales said Friday, a day after the application deadline. "I think they're all well-qualified and have quality administrative experiences.
"The deciding factor may be what Science Hill needs at a particular point in time. It's an important, difficult decision for our community. Much like the director of schools position, it's a defining position for the school system."
The internal applicants are John K. Boyd Jr., the school system's facilities and instruction supervisor, and Melanie Riden, an assistant principal at Science Hill's 10-12 campus. The third applicant is Catherine Edwards, exiting principal of Elizabethton High School.
Interim Elizabethton Director of Schools Ed Alexander recently informed Edwards that he would not renew her contract for the coming school year. Prior to arriving at Elizabethton last summer, Edwards worked at East Tennessee State University's University School for 13 years, having completed her tenure at the K-12 laboratory school as assistant director. She also had been a tenured teacher at Tennessee High School in Bristol and Unicoi County High School in Erwin.
Boyd has worked in the Johnson City system's Central Office since 2005, when he returned from a sabbatical he used to complete his doctorate at ETSU. Prior to his leave, he was principal at the city's South Side Elementary School for 20 years.
Riden has been an assistant principal at Science Hill since 2000.
A fourth applicant, Steven Milhorn of Orange City, Fla., did not meet the experience requirements Bales had set for the Science Hill job.
"I did post it as â€˜administrative experience required.' One of the applicants has no administrative experience, so I will not be interviewing that person," Bales said.
Bales announced earlier this month that he would reassign current Science Hill Principal Dave Chupa to a supervisory position in the school system's Central Office and name a successor before Chupa's contract as principal expires at the end of June.
The director said he had received significant faculty input about the qualifications for Chupa's successor, and he planned to take it all into account as he considered his choices.
"The faculty knows through communication that they could submit the characteristics they felt like would be needed in an administrator, and I have received numerous pieces of written information from them," he said. "We've also had casual conversations as I've visited the schools.
"Also, I met with all of the assistant principals so they could share their thoughts on the matter and what kind of person would be needed to lead the Hill in the next couple of years."
Likewise, Bales has heard from parents about Science Hill's next leader.
"I've heard from some community members in conversations," he said. "Being a parent myself, I'm around other parents frequently, and some have felt comfortable enough to share their thoughts, which is nice."
As for the Johnson City Board of Education, Bales said current members were aware of the process he planned to use to fill the post. By state law, the school board sets policy, awards tenure and employs the school system's director, who in turn hires and oversees the system's staff.
Bales said he plans to meet next week with Tim Belisle, Jenny Brock and Ralph Van Brocklin, the new school board members elected in Tuesday's city election, for orientation and information.
I don't know that this (the Science Hill job) will be one that I set up conversations about, but if they have questions at that point, I'll certainly be responsive," Bales said.
Bales said Friday he already had interviewed two of the three applicants for the post, and he had scheduled the third for later that afternoon.
He hoped to make a decision soon, allowing time for a transitional phase between Chupa and the new principal. Bales said he intends to inform the school's faculty of his decision before making it public.
Bales emphasized that contrary to rumor, he has not yet offered the job to anyone.