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Search for a leader: Schools get 11 applications for top job

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

(Photo)
Mike Bone, left, interim Bedford County Superintendent of Schools, talks with school board chair Amy Martin, right, before the start of the school board meeting held at the central office Tuesday.
(T-G photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
Eleven people have applied for the position of Bedford County Superintendent of Schools, and copies of their application packets were given to Bedford County Board of Education members during a special called meeting on Tuesday.

Monday was the application deadline, and school board chairman Amy Martin said the post office box set up for the superintendent search was not checked until Tuesday morning, meaning no one knew in advance who had applied.

Hopefuls

The applicants, in alphabetical order:

* Dennis James Albright of Sutton, W.Va., superintendent of Braxton County, W.Va., schools;

* Don Embry of Shelbyville, principal of Shelbyville Central High School;

* James A. Ratledge of Maryville, an independent consultant;

* Paul Gregory Rockhold of Shiprock, N.M., principal of Tse' Bit' Ai Middle School in Shiprock;

* Karen Scoggins of Shelbyville, principal of Learning Way Elementary School;

* Gerry Smith of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, an educational marketing manager for Apple Inc.;

* Douglas C. Thoburn of Columbus, Ohio, principal and superintendent of the private Harvest Preparatory School in Canal Winchester, Ohio;

* Darrell Treece of Columbia, Ky., who served as superintendent of Adair County, Ky., schools until earlier this year;

* James E. Waters of Tullahoma, an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University and an insurance consultant;

* Jon F. Whittemore of Jasper, Texas, who until earlier this year was the superintendent of the Jasper Independent School District; and

* Janice R. Womble of Shelbyville, who currently serves as supervisor of secondary education for the Bedford County school system.

Smith, although now living in Canada, is a former Shelbyville resident and holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, according to his application.

Selection process

The school board is seeking a permanent successor to Dr. Ray Butrum, who officially left office Nov. 1. Currently, former superintendents Mike Bone and Ed Gray are sharing the duties on an interim basis.

The 2011 application process which resulted in Butrum's hiring was largely managed by Tennessee School Boards Association, which collected applications and then narrowed them down to a short list before passing them along to the school board to make a final choice.

This time, the board is taking a more active role, and will determine the short list itself. TSBA did help publicize the vacancy.

Next steps

Board members are being asked to review the applications and think of potential interview questions. They hope to approve a short list of candidates for further consideration during a special called meeting on Feb. 1.

Interviews will be conducted in mid-February, with the hope being that an appointment can be announced in March and the new superintendent can take office April 1. Martin said that timeline could change depending on the makeup of the short list.

On four consecutive days during the 2011 hiring process, each short list candidate was the focus of a full day of interviews, school visits, and community forums.

Possible changes

Martin said that this time around, depending on the makeup of the short list, it might be better to do the interviews all on the same day, which keeps candidates later in the process from knowing what questions will be asked.

"Once the questions are asked, they're out there," said Martin.

It's also possible that the school board's top choice or choices after the first round of interviews could be invited back for a second interview, something that wasn't part of the 2011 process.

School board member Ron Adcock said that he would like the school board to put Bone and Gray on a retainer for several months, possibly until the new school year starts in the fall, to advise the new superintendent.