It appears the public will need to wait a bit longer before learning the name of the person who will replace Connie Holdway, Claiborne County Director of Schools. During the regular meeting last week, board chairperson Neta Munsey announced a delay in choosing a replacement for Holdway, who will be retiring from the position on June 30.
Munsey said the board wanted to spend more time acquiring additional information from the final four candidates before making its decision.
A meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 23, to be held at the Claiborne High School. At that time, the four finalists — Meredith Arnold, Linda Keck, Dr. Joseph Miller and Jim Shipley — are expected to submit individual written presentations outlining their personal ideas for a five-year school district plan. Each candidate will then give a 30-minute oral presentation directly from his or her written version.
The presentations, first suggested by vice-chair Shannon England, will be followed by a question and answer period.
Board member Linda Fultz said she felt it would be unfair to allow all four candidates to be in the room at the same time.
“If you go first, whoever goes last will have the benefit of taking points from all the others,” said Fultz.
England agreed, saying that that was her reasoning behind the written presentations.
Board member Micheal Jo Gray agreed with both women.
Munsey said the board should be ready to make its decision during the regular April meeting.
In a related matter, the board unanimously voted in favor of inviting Miller, who is one of the four directorship candidates, to visit Claiborne County. The visit was to have occurred the morning after last week’s meeting.
Munsey took exception to the way in which Miller was given permission to visit. Apparently, board members Shane Bunch and Justin Cosby traveled to meet with Miller. During the visit, Miller apparently invited himself to Claiborne County for a “meet and greet,” of sorts.
Munsey said the situation was not handled “properly, with prior authorization.”
“This is not the way that boards operate. Boards have to operate with seven people voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ whether they want to do something. You do not just up and do something as an individual board member or two individuals,” said Munsey.
She said she had spoken earlier that day to a representative of the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) about the matter.
According to Munsey, the TSBA representative told her the meeting would need to be cancelled. However, Munsey said she told him the board would be meeting that evening and that it could vote on the issue, at that time.
Bunch reminded his fellow board members of a previous comment he had made to them concerning his desire to go ‘one on one’ with any or all the finalists.
“I made arrangements to speak with each of the final four, so that I could get to know them better. In the process of talking to Dr. Joe Miller, he said ‘do you think there would be any problem if I come up and just look at your system.’ I said ‘I don’t see that that would be any problem.
“How this has gotten where it’s at today, I don’t exactly know…. If somebody asks me, I’m not going to tell them they can’t come up,” said Bunch.
Cosby seemed to agree with Bunch’s assessment, saying he, too, had met with Miller in order to become better acquainted with the candidate.
By voting in favor of the visit, the full board agreed, as a unit, to attend.
In other action, the board approved the appointments of Asher Noe and Tim Duncan as middle school football head and assistant coaches, pending background checks. Noe will replace Brody Wells, who recently resigned his post.
The board adopted the 2017-18 school calendar that reflects an Aug. 1 start date and a May 23 end of school year. Fall break will occur during the week of Oct. 16-20. The Christmas holidays will begin on Dec. 20 and end on Jan. 2.
Students will have March 26-30 to enjoy the time-honored annual spring break.
In another matter, the board unanimously approved a program highlighting to students the effects of 0piates. The program is expected to begin next school year.
Latoya Keaton Combs was granted tenure by the full board. Combs is a level five teacher at Springdale Elementary School.
Clairfield Elementary students earned the monthly attendance reward for the second time in as many months. The school squeezed out Springdale in a tight race by one-tenth of a percentage point. Clairfield attained a monthly attendance rate of 94.8 percent while Springdale just missed the mark with a 94.7 percentile for attendance.
Holdway said it was the first time this school year that any of the schools had gone below 90 percent. Claiborne High was the only one to do so, she said, because of the recent weapons threat that kept many students home that day.
The monthly awards must be paying off. During the previous school year, attendance rates had already dropped below 90 percent by October, Holdway said.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.