When I was elected to the school board, I knew there was a possibility that I could be part of a superintendent selection at a future date. When Dr. McIntyre chose not to remain as Knox County's superintendent that process became even more important. I wanted to be involved because I knew that choosing a new superintendent would be one of the most important decisions I would help make as part of the school board. It was a decision that would impact Knox County Schools and thousands of families across this district. I would be one of nine votes that would determine who would replace Dr. McIntyre.
As Chairman of the Board, I have had the privilege of appointing the search committee. While I was asked to be on the committee (and even to chair it) I refused because I believed it would be self serving. I felt serving as Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Superintendent Search Committee would be an unhealthy consolidation of power that I believed wouldn't serve the process well.
Instead, I requested that board members who were interested in serving on the committee email the board's administrative assistant. The search committee selected was comprised of an excellent range of talents and skill sets. Ms.Rountree brought her independent thinking and strong resolve as Chair of the committee. As a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee she had access to educational research and people involved in higher education to consult with as needed. Ms.Horn is articulate and well spoken with a passion for children and teachers as a PTO parent who has been actively engaged in the schools. Mr. Norman brought his expertise of the political climate of Knox County having served on County Commission (which is the schools' funding body.)
After the selection committee was in place, every meeting was conducted publicly with complete transparency. Timelines were developed and the process by which to proceed was determined with the help of Human Resources, the Law Department and the BOE's administrative assistant. The search ran smoothly, and the best part was that we saved Knox County Schools up to $80,000 by not hiring a search firm.
We were pleased to have 24 applicants which was narrowed to five finalists with a sixth being added.The six finalists were narrowed down to the final two. Those two finalists appeared before the Board and the community. Both of these meetings were open to the public. Every board member had access to all the information on all the candidates which I believe is better than a hired firm presenting their top candidates. I went into the special called meeting not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by a unanimous decision (9-0) in support of Dr. Bob Thomas.
Personally speaking, Buzz Thomas started the healing process for our school system, but we still have a long way to go. Dr. Bob Thomas has the institutional knowledge and the steadiness to continue the healing process. He has worked under multiple superintendents and has had time to formulate what has worked and what hasn't worked. He has time now to devote to steadying the ship or system and yet because of his passion for Knox County (and the time that he has spent in the system) he isn't going to move elsewhere.
Thank you to everyone who called, texted, emailed, and stopped me in the schools to give input. A special thank you to my district...the 7th district.
On a side note:
I found strength for this process by reading 2 Kings 19: 14-34 and Romans 12:2. The Voice of Truth and City on a Hill by Casting Crowns and God of This City by Chris Tomlin were songs that express my heart as a board member for Knoxville and Knox County Schools.