By Karen Hall
A decision on who will be the next director of Marshall County schools could be made as early as the school board's March meeting, according to discussion at a work session Tuesday night.
"The intention is to get the new director here in time to be a part of the budget process," said board member Randy Perryman. The year 2012 presents the additional constraint that the new director must be in office 60 days before the county general election on Aug. 2.
The deadline for applications is Jan. 4. Board members plan to meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, to go through the list of applicants and decide which ones they would like to interview.
Barbara Kennedy suggested voting on each applicant, eliminating the ones who didn't get at least five votes.
"It's a vote to interview?" asked Sam Smith.
"Right," Kennedy confirmed.
"There would be discussion," added Kristen Gold.
"Yes," agreed Donnie Moses. "You could plead your case" for wanting to interview a particular candidate.
Smith asked what would happen if there were only six or seven applicants, and Ann Tears said in that case, they could see them all.
"The interview's the ticket," said Harvey Jones Jr. "They're all going to present a good resume."
Kennedy agreed with him and took it a step further, stating, "There's no point in interviewing someone if they can't sell themselves on paper. I don't want to waste a lot of time."
Board members anticipated conducting interviews in February, then getting background checks done, and making a choice at the March meeting.
Board secretary Rhonda Poole informed members that most applications come in close to the deadline. So far there is one candidate. Poole intends to scan the applications as they arrive, and send them to the board members' secure eMeetings Web site so they can be studied ahead of time.
Board members resisted the idea of having either the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) or the board's attorney, Sam Jackson, narrow down the list for them. They did not rule out asking Jackson for his opinion on applicants, realizing that he probably knows most of the top educators in the state.
When Stan Curtis was chosen as director of schools in 2008, the TSBA had reduced the list of 16 applicants to five finalists. Randy Perryman remembered spending five nights in a row interviewing, and then inviting two to return to Marshall County for a full day touring the schools before Curtis was chosen.
There were 17 applications for the director's job the next time around, with 11 arriving in the last week. Each board member got a jumbo-size binder with copies of all the applications, but ended up not having to study them when a successful motion was made to appoint Dukes.