Kingsport Times News Thursday, July 24, 2014

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Hawkins County BOE picks two finalists for director's job

May 8th, 2014 11:33 pm by Jeff Bobo

Hawkins County BOE picks two finalists for director's job

JIM AILSHIE and DIXIE BOWEN

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education narrowed its director of schools search to two finalists Thursday, but the focus will be on top vote-getter Dixie Bowen, a supervisor from Bristol, Tenn., Schools System.

A committee of three school board members will visit the Bristol school district Monday morning to interview school faculty and supervisors about Bowen.

A special called meeting is scheduled for Monday evening at 5 p.m. for that committee to give a report on its findings and possibly approve the new director.

The board also asked Bowen to attend that meeting with her spouse and family.

During Thursday's BOE meeting, each board member voted for his or her top two director candidates from the six who were interviewed two weeks ago.

Bowen was the only applicant not already working in the Hawkins County system who received votes.

She received five votes, followed by Rogersville Middle School Principal Jim Ailshie with four votes, Assistant Director of Schools Steve Starnes with three votes, and Attendance Supervisor Greg Sturgill with two votes.

Bowen told the Times-News after the meeting she is extremely honored to be a finalist.

She said she believes the "passion" she expressed for education during her interview may have been the difference.

"My passion for education and for all of the stakeholders — the parents, the students, and families, and for folks in Hawkins County who don't have a stake right now in education — for them to become just as passionate, because this is our future," Bowen said.

Board members agreed that they will focus mainly on Bowen during Monday's meeting, but if for some reason Bowen isn't approved, or they can't come to an agreement on her salary, the focus will then shift to Ailshie.

The BOE vote breakdown was as follows: Chris Christian voted for Ailshie and Bowen; Bob Larkins voted for Bowen and Starnes; Randy Collier voted for Ailshie and Sturgill; Mike Williams voted for Ailshie and Bowen; Kathy Cradic voted for Ailshie and Bowen; Debbie Shedden voted for Bowen and Starnes; and Holly Helton voted for Starnes and Sturgill.

Cradic told the Times-News after the meeting she liked Bowen's answers regarding technology, communication with the board, and budgeting.

During the interviews board members were given a scorecard to grade each applicant's response. Cradic said Bowen earned her highest score, followed closely by Ailshie.

"She said she'd work hard on the budget," Cradic said. "She said she'd be able to walk the fine line between spending responsibly and continuing our academic improvement. I liked her answers and I like the way she presented herself."

Cradic added, "They were all really good. I liked Mr. Ailshie's answers too, and if for some reason it doesn't work out with Mrs. Bowen, we've still got some good choices."

In other business Thursday the BOE:

  • Voted 6-0 with one abstention to direct County Attorney Jim Phillips to negotiate with the Tennessee School Board Association about a reduced fee due to a breach of contract alleged by board chairman Randy Collier.
  • Collier said the TSBA, which was contracted for $8,500 to conduct the director of schools search, failed to contact references on some applicants, and failed to contact potential applicants whose names were listed by community members at public meetings.

    Board member Debbie Shedden, who is also vice president of the TSBA, abstained.

  • Scheduled a curriculum committee meeting for June 2 at 3 p.m. to discuss some pending "unfunded mandates" from Nashville before the 2014-15 budget is finalized.
  • Agreed to allow Otis Eldridge to utilize the parking lots at Hawkins Elementary School and Rogersville Middle School for the Memory Lane car show on May 24 in case rain makes holding the event at the Eldridges' Memory Lane festival grounds on Caney Creek Road impossible.
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