BLOUNTVILLE — Longtime Sullivan North High School Principal Richard Carroll is retiring.
His departure ends an almost five-decade educational career in the Bloomingdale community,
“I struggled with that decision for days — weeks, really,” Carroll said Saturday afternoon. “I figure 47 years is probably enough. I’m just concerned about things. I just think it is time for me to go.”
His retirement, turned in Thursday, is the latest of changes and turnover of Sullivan County administrators in the western end of the county, mostly in the North zone.
“I’m pleased for him,” Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said after a Saturday Board of Education budget work session. “He’s had a great career. I know that (retiring) was very difficult for him.”
Carroll said he was a teacher 19 years and an administrator the other 28 years.
“I hope someone will replace me who will take care of the kids,” said Carroll, 73 and long rumored to be retiring. “I’ve had kids beg me not to retire.”
He continued this year to drive the football team bus to games and was honored as the grand marshal of the 2012 Bloomingdale Christmas parade. He also earlier this year was an outspoken opponent of a scenario under consideration by the Board of Education to close either North or South high school, making one a high school and the other a middle school for both zones.
“Richard Carroll just retired. It did not matter what he made. He took ownership of that school,” BOE member Todd Broughton, from Bloomingdale, said during a budget work session discussion of principal compensation and incentive bonuses.
“He’ll be missed,” Broughton said after the work session.
Carroll, reached by telephone while putting up hay on his farm, said he started with Sullivan County’s school system in September of 1966.
He spent five years teaching grades 7 and 8 at Kingsley Elementary, then a grades 1-8 school, before going to Ketron High School in 1971 to teach math and coach sports.
He was head track coach and assistant football and football coach.
Carroll went to North High School in 1980, the year it opened, becoming athletic director and eventually assistant principal before becoming principal in 2001.
Elsewhere in the North zone, the school system must fill the principal and assistant principal positions at North Middle School, a “school within a school” in the North High building
North Middle Principal Tom Bowers retired recently, and the system laid off North Middle Assistant Principal Jackie Wolfe in a budget-cutting move because she was untenured.
“Tom and I got along very well,” Carroll said. “I really hated to see Tom leave.”
Carroll said part of the reason for his retirement now was a concern that Assistant Principal Wayne King, “my right hand man at the high school,” may become pricipal at North Middle. He also mentioned the 2011-12 retirement of Joe Salyers, “one of the best school people I know.”
Elsewhere in the North zone, at Ketron Elementary School, Co-Principal Sandra Ramsey, a 42-year-school system employee, has been relieved of her duties. Ketron Co-Principal Wendell Smith remains at Ketron, at least for now. Broughton said community members are still up in arms about Ramsey’s removal from Ketron. Before Ketron, she was principal of Kingsley Elementary.
“I hate that for Sandra. She’s a wonderful lady,” Carroll said.
Yennie said that the search would be for an assistant principal at Ketron, not a co-principal, and he said no decisions have been made on where Ramsey might serve in 2013-14.
The retirement of Sullivan Gardens K-8 Principal Zada Church has left a vacancy there.
In addition, a vice principal’s position is open at Bluff City Elementary on the eastern end of the county.