Four to be interviewed for schools director job

Friday, January 13, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Both local candidates survived the first round of voting by school board members in their search for a new director of schools.

Jackie Abernathy and Dr. Larry Miller will face interviews conducted by the whole board, possibly as soon as the week beginning Jan. 23.

Seven board members voted to interview Abernathy, while Miller had eight supporters. Behind them came William Royal with six votes, and Paul Tisdale with five.

Close on their heels, with three votes each were Teresa Williams, D. Scott Porter, and James Francis.

"Those three have really good resumes," said Curt Denton.

"I think four is enough," Randy Perryman said, but board member Ann Tears made a strong case for considering Porter, calling his resume "exquisite" and stating he seemed to have a lot to offer.

"Francis is good, too," she said.

Board members voted again on the three, but none gained more votes.

"Basically, we have a final four," said chairman Mike Keny.

Board members agreed not to tell the other nine applicants that they had lost their chance, leaving the option open to re-visit the pool of candidates if, for any reason, the first four didn't work out.

"Are we going to do background checks or check their references?" asked Barbara Kennedy.

"Anybody can put anything on a piece of paper," she pointed out. "Let's do due diligence before we ask them to show up."

Board secretary Rhonda Poole was asked to make calls to confirm previous employment for the two non-local applicants.

"Tisdale retired at $160,000," Keny said, wondering if he was seriously interested in working for less.

"They wouldn't have applied if they couldn't accept our salary," said Tears.

The rest of the special-called meeting was taken up by discussion of what questions to ask the candidates, and how to get input from the community, as well as from teachers and administrators.

"We're all available to members of the community," said Donnie Moses, as he encouraged everyone to submit interview questions. "I don't care if you live in my district or not."

Keny agreed to start working on the questions with Kristen Gold and Moses.

The special-called meeting was recessed, not adjourned, and will reconvene Tuesday at 6 p.m. to decide on the questions to be asked.