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Hawkins BOE to decide if seven director of schools applicants is enough

March 13th, 2014 11:47 pm by Jeff Bobo

Hawkins BOE to decide if seven director of schools applicants is enough

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education will meet in special session Tuesday to determine if seven director of schools applications are enough, or if the board needs to sweeten the pot to attract more.

As of Wednesday's deadline, the Tennessee School Boards Association, which has been contracted to conduct the search, had received seven applications to replace Hawkins County Director of Schools Charlotte Britton who retires June 30.

Three of those applicants are from within the system including Assistant Director of Schools Steve Starnes, Rogersville Middle School Principal Jim Ailshie, and Attendance Supervisor Greg Sturgill.

Two other applicants are from the area including Amanda R. Carr who resides in Hawkins County and worked at the Sullivan County School System until 2013; and Raymond L. Hatfield, an assistant professor at Tusculum College who lives in Kingsport.

The only two out-of-state applicants are Eric C. Ely of Springfield, Ohio, who is the owner of RELYonUS Associates LLC; and Thomas Graves of Abingdon, Va., who is an educational consultant.

The Hawkins County Board of Education paid the TSBA $8,500 to conduct its director search.

BOE chairman Randy Collier said Thursday he would like to have seen more applicants, but he feels the salary offered for the director position prevented more people from applying.

The new director of schools will make approximately $90,000 annually. A salary study conducted a couple of years ago gauging 18 school systems in the region showed Hawkins County to be at the very bottom with respect to director pay.

"From talking to (TSBA deputy director) Randall Bennett, he said the salary was the big issue," Collier said. "He had several others interested, but the salary comparison to what supervisors are making in Bristol and some of the local areas, they would actually have to take a cut in pay to take our superintendent job."

Collier said he scheduled Tuesday's special called meeting at 5 p.m. to ask his fellow board members if they would like to offer more money, and advertise for applicants again, or if they believe they can make a good selection with the current applicants and salary.

Meanwhile school officials will be collecting data on director of schools salaries across the region, state and country to see exactly where Hawkins County stands, and approximately how much would have to be offered to entice more applicants.

The BOE's current goal is to hire a new director by May 15, and Collier said the TSBA believes the hiring deadline can be met, even if the application deadline is extended.

"If we've already got a qualified candidate willing to take the job for what we're offering, then maybe we don't have to look at the salary and extending the deadline," Collier said. "That's what the board needs to discuss Tuesday."

The TSBA is scheduled to meet with the BOE Thursday and recommend up to five finalists who will then be interviewed by the board.

Board member Kathy Cradic said Thursday if TSBA still finds four or five qualified finalists from among the seven applicants, she could live with that.

"We're relying on TSBA to help us narrow the field," Cradic said. "We're paying them for their expertise, and if they only brought us two finalists who they're saying are qualified, then I say extend the deadline and get some more (applicants). But, if they bring us four to five good people to choose from out of the seven who applied, that's what we were asking them to bring us to start with."

Board member Chris Christian was a proponent of increasing incentives such as salary for applicants from the outset of the director search.

"Any time your talent pool is larger, the more you've got to choose from is always better," Christian said. "I really feel like we need to put a salary range out there to garner more interest from surrounding systems and out-of-state personnel, because you get what you pay for. Whether we find a competent person from within the system, or outside the system, we need to get as many applicants as we possibly can."

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