(T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds)
The Bedford County Board of Education on Thursday narrowed the list of candidates from 10 to three -- all of them local. Those candidates are Don Embry, principal of Shelbyville Central High School; Karen Scoggins, principal of Learning Way Elementary School; and Janice R. Womble, supervisor of secondary education for Bedford County schools.
The three candidates will be interviewed on Feb. 11.
While several board members expressed support for the local candidates, there was a little dissension on the procedure used to create the short list.
Diane Neeley said her constituents "overwhelmingly" told her they wanted only the local candidates to be considered.
"I've had a very difficult time narrowing this down," Neeley said.
She made a motion to consider only the local candidates for the short list.
Earlier in the search process, the board had decided to let each member turn in a list Thursday of candidates he or she wanted to consider for the short list, and the board then would create a short list of four or five candidates. However, Neeley's motion changed that plan.
Glenn Forsee said he agreed the local candidates were the best choices, but he worried that the late procedural change would hurt the integrity of the search process.
"The motion, as stated, I cannot endorse," Forsee said.
He added that if the board stayed with its original plan, the result would remain the same -- the local candidates would be the finalists.
Forsee put forth an amendment to go ahead and have board members turn in their lists of names and move forward with the top three choices.
However, Neeley said she did not accept the amendment, which stopped Forsee's recommendation.
The board accepted Neeley's motion, with Forsee casting the only "no" vote.
Then, the board decided the three finalists would all be interviewed on the same day, Feb. 11 starting at 3 p.m. Womble will go first, then Scoggins and Embry, with each candidate getting between one-and-a-half hours to two hours.
Board Chairwoman Amy Martin asked if the board wanted to allow community members to participate in the interviews. Neeley and board member Chad Graham said no.
Board member Ron Adcock said he wanted to make it clear that members of the public could give their input to the board.
The board also agreed to take each candidate to dinner on separate nights. Board member Dixie Parker suggested that each member pay for his or her own meal and that everyone chip in to buy the candidate's dinner so no taxpayer money would be used. The dinner dates will be determined later.
The final two candidates will be named at a special called meeting at 5 p.m. on Feb. 26, Martin said. However, the board may be ready instead at that time to decide who the superintendent will be, she added. Regardless of whether the board selects the superintendent or narrows the field to two candidates on Feb. 26, the official announcement will be made at another special called meeting at 5 p.m. on March 5, she said.
The new superintendent will officially take office on April 1, Martin said.
After the meeting ended, Forsee said he voted the way he did because he worried about setting a precedent for future superintendent searches.
"The process does matter," he said.
Forsee declined to say if he had put any of the candidates' names on a short list.
The candidates whose names were cut from consideration Thursday were: Dennis James Albright of Sutton, W.Va.; James A. Ratledge of Maryville; Paul Gregory Rockhold of Shiprock, N.M.; Douglas C. Thoburn of Columbus, Ohio; Darrell Treece of Columbia, Ky.; James E. Waters of Tullahoma; and Jon F. Whittemore of Jasper, Texas. Gerry Smith of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, had voluntarily dropped out of the process earlier for personal reasons.