Group concludes community meetings for Hawkins director of schools search

Jeff Bobo • Feb 7, 2014 at 12:08 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The director of a school system with a $53 million annual budget and more than 600 employees needs to have a corporate CEO mentality with regards to finances.

Hawkins County leaders said Thursday that’s what they want in their next director of schools, but not at the risk of backsliding on academic gains that have occurred in recent years.

During a lunch meeting Thursday, the Tennessee School Board Association sought input from the Hawkins County Commission, school board, and other community leaders, wrapping up two days of meetings which also included the public and school employees.

After hearing comments for about an hour Thursday, TSBA deputy executive director and general counsel Randall Bennett joked that the county is basically looking for “Superman” as its next director.

Thursday’s lunch meeting was attended by seven of the 21 county commissioners, four of the seven school board members, County Mayor Melville Bailey and Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal.

Bennett asked the attendees to answer three separate questions during the discussion, and their responses were recorded along with comments from previous meetings to be included in a report to the school board.

That report will be given to the BOE next week for consideration during the director of schools search process.

Bennett’s first question was what is happening in Hawkins County Schools now that the county should be proud of.

Among the responses were: the improved high school graduation rate and success on the state report card, made by Bailey; the dedicated school staff, made by Commissioner Jeff Barrett; school renovations and investment in facilities, as well as increased emphasis on school safety, made by Deal; and improvements made in technology, made by Commissioner Linda Kimbro.

School board member Debbie Shedden expanded on Barrett’s response.

“With all the different changes in education, with Common Core being implemented, and the push to bring our children to a higher level of education for the betterment of their future, I think we have our staff to thank for that,” Shedden said.

Bennett’s second question asked attendees to identify the biggest challenges that the new director of schools will face.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Friday’s print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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