The Hawkins County Board of Education met with TSBA deputy director and chief counsel Russell Bennett via teleconference last Wednesday afternoon. (photo by Jeff Bobo)
ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins county Board of Education informally approved a director of schools search timeline Wednesday which should have Charlotte Britton’s replacement hired and on the job by April 14.
Britton’s last day is June 30, and the BOE’s goal is to have the new director of schools working with Britton for a couple of months prior to her retirement, especially during the budget process which general begins in April or May.
Earlier this month the BOE voted to contract with the Tennessee School Board Association to conduct its director search for $8,500. TSBA will advertise the job opening, screen the initial applicants and provide the BOE with a list of up to six finalists.
Board members met in workshop session Wednesday afternoon with TSBA Deputy Executive Director and General Council Randall Bennett who will oversee the Hawkins County director search.
One of the main orders of business was establishing a timeline for the director search process, and Bennett provided two options.
One option called for the new director to be announced March 28, and on the job by April 1.
Although Wednesday’s meeting was a workshop, and no voting was allowed, the board members in attendance agreed by consensus that the April 1 timeline might be too aggressive.
The board informally approved a timeline which sets the new director first day as April 14.
The process begins right away, however, with events scheduled as early as next week when a series of mandatory public meetings will take place.
On Thursday, Jan. 30 there will be four meetings seeking input from school employees and the community regarding the qualities they desire in a new director of schools.
Those meeting will be organized and hosted by the TSBA, and comments gathered will be placed in a report for the BOE to review as it makes its final decision.
Meetings are in the bus garage meeting room in Rogersville unless otherwise noted.
On Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. cafeteria workers, custodians and maintenance workers will meet with the TSBA; followed by the teachers at 4 p.m.; and the first of two community meetings for the public at 5:30 p.m.
A second community meeting for the public is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Volunteer High School “Little Theater” in Church Hill.
On Friday, Jan. 31 TSBA will meet in Rogersville at 8:30 a.m. with Central Office staff, supervisors and principals; and at 10 a.m. with secretaries, teacher aides and bus drivers.
At 11:30 a.m. TSBA will hold its final community input meeting for elected officials, business leaders and the BOE.
In addition to community meetings the TSBA will design an online survey form for school employees and community members to fill out regarding the director of schools search. That online form will be available at the TSBA website from Jan. 29 until Feb. 3.
Meanwhile TSBA will advertise for applicants. The application deadline is March 7. The next significant date on the timeline is March 13 when TSBA will recommend the final candidates, and notify applicants who missed the first cut.
Aside from providing the BOE with reports on applicant background, credential and reference checks, and interviews, TSBA will also assist the BOE by drafting questionnaires for board members to make notes as the board begins interviewing finalists March 17-21.
The TSBA timeline lists March 24-28 as a time for the BOE to begin a second phase of consideration, focus on candidates one at a time, and to choose finalists for community visits.
April 1-4 is set aside for contract negotiation/offer, followed by announcement of an appointment on April 11.
Board members had several questions for Bennett during Wednesday’s lengthy meeting.
For example, board member Bob Larkins wanted to know if the board would have access to the entire list of applicants, including those who aren’t recommended by the TSBA.
Bennett said the entire list of applications is available for the board to review, and in fact, is public record, so no one can apply for the job in secret.
Board member Christ Christian expressed concern that the salary offered by Hawkins County is low by national and state standards. Britton noted that she makes the state minimum.
Bennett said the contract negotiation period is the time for salary discussions, but that figure is at the BOE’s discretion.
Board chairman Randy collier asked for examples of other districts which used the TSBA director search program.
The Hawkins County BOE has selected it’s two most recent directors on its own, and the previous director before that was held over from the elected superintendent era.
Bennett provided a list of 56 successful appointments dating back to 2000.
From 2010 to 2012 the TSBA conducted successful director searches for the Dickson, Rutherford, Clarksville-Montgomery, Loudon, Cleveland, Bedford County, Alcoa, Fayette County, Sullivan County, and Athens school systems.
In Northeast Tennessee TSBA also performed director searches for Bristol City Schools in 2009; Sullivan County in 2008; Washington County in 2008; Greene County in 2007; Elizabethton in 2003; Kingsport in 2000; Johnson City in 2000; and Unicoi County in 2000.