Dukes' deal on board's plate

Friday, February 12, 2010

The terms of the new director of schools' contract and his salary will have to come before the whole school board for discussion and approval.

Board chairman Mike Keny said the board's attorney, Sam Jackson, has to draw up the contract and Keny is waiting to hear back from him

"I think we'll reach an agreement," Keny predicted about contract negotiations with Roy Dukes, the interim director of schools who was given the director's job by a 6-3 vote at Monday night's board meeting.

Keny was one of the board members who voted to post the director's position and accept applications for 45 days, but on Monday, he was one of those who voted for Dukes without considering the other applicants.

Explaining this, Keny said, " I had a lot of people approach me that were very supportive of him; school administrators as well. He had a lot of broad-based support. We have stability and calm and we're educating kids right now - I give Dukes a lot of credit for that. I felt like making him director was the answer."

Board member Randy Perryman was another who wanted to post the position, but voted for Dukes Monday night.

"During the time of the posting process I had been contacted by teachers as well as private citizens stating their support for Mr. Dukes," wrote Perryman in an e-mail. "After sitting through a couple of budget meetings and realizing the financial difficulties we will be facing, it just seemed like the best move for the county."

At least two of the three board members who voted against the motion to make Dukes the director seem to have been protesting the fact that the other applicants were being ignored, rather than voicing disapproval of Dukes.

"It's a slap in the face to the other 16 to just ignore them," exclaimed Barbara Kennedy at the meeting.

"I feel we had a responsibility to show consideration to the other applicants," wrote Dee Dee Owens in an e-mail. Owens is solidly in favor of Dukes, continuing, "I think he is doing a wonderful job and is the person to fill the director's position. I am very pleased with the outcome of the vote and look forward to working with Mr. Dukes and the other board members."

Since he was 23 years old, Dukes has devoted his life to education in Marshall County, starting as a teacher and coach at Connelly Middle School in 1965. He has a master of education degree in supervision and administration from Middle Tennessee State University, so it is logical that Dukes would move up the ladder to assistant principal at Marshall County High School (9 years) and then MCHS principal (8 years).

In 1992 he moved to Central Office, filling the director of accountability job for 7 years, and becoming assistant director in 1999, a job he carried out until the board made him interim director in October 2009.

A lot of people in Marshall County still refer to Dukes as "coach," and he has a long involvement with athletics in the County and the state, including officiating Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association basketball and football for 17 years. He was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2005 as an administrator.

In his teaching days, Dukes was a science teacher, and his wife Louise is retired from teaching science at MCHS. They have two sons and two grandchildren. He is a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and member of the male chorus at Greater First Baptist Church.

"I would not have supported this vote without complete confidence that Mr. Dukes can handle the director's job and help move this system forward," Perryman wrote at the end of his e-mail.