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Schools director search narrows
May 09, 2006 12:00 am
April 22, 2006 – While the slate of candidates vying to be the next Wilson County schools director has shrunk by one, school board members are geared to begin the interview process next week, hoping to announce a decision in May.
"We have a set of questions compiled by all board members we plan to use during the interview process," Zone 1 board member Wayne McNeese said Thursday. "We feel very good about the candidates presented to us."
School board members are conducting interviews for the director's position after Dr. Jim Duncan submitted his resignation effective Dec. 31. His successor will be the second appointed director for the Wilson County School system.
A consultant hired by the school system reviewed the applicants for the top post and narrowed down the list to a half dozen. He then presented the applications to school board members last week.
At that time, six candidates including Lebanon High School Principal Don Hassler were recommended. However, today five candidates remain after one pulled out of the running to accept a job in Washington, D.C., at the White House, McNeese said.
Applicant and Waynesville, Mo., Schools Superintendent Ed Musgrove withdrew from the process to accept the other job. The remaining contenders – who school board members will interview April 28 and 29 – all possess two of the board's top criteria for the post, McNeese said.
"Our two top priorities are that they have past experience as a director or superintendent, and they have a doctorate degree," McNeese said. "They all have these credentials and are all highly qualified."
With qualifications met, it comes down to how well the candidates present themselves, he said.
"Now it will almost be how they will interact with us," McNeese said. "I think we all feel good about the candidates and really I guess it comes down to how comfortable it will be to work with whom we hire. They are all great candidates."
With a projected July 1 start date for the new director, two directors will be on the payroll for six months, a situation that had two school board members – Zone 2 member Lisa McMillin and Zone 5 member Greg Lasater – voting against the hiring time line allowing for the overlap and amounting to $60,000 in salary and benefits.
"All these candidates are already employed by other systems," McNeese said. "It's very difficult to hire people in the middle of the school year. We should have had more foresight when we wrote a contract that ends Dec. 31 rather than a school calendar year's end."
Additionally, two school board members seats – held by Ron Britt and McMillin – are up for election. McNeese said it could not be helped two board members will pick the next director but not necessary be on board during that director's tenure.
Hassler, who was Cumberland County schools director for two years and is LHS principal, will be one of two candidates interviewed April 28 and the trio of others will be interviewed the next day.
Other applicants are:
· Mike Davis, director of schools in Scott County;
· Jerry Hale, director of schools in Warren County;
· Bentley Rawdon, retired former superintendent of schools in McKenzie and dean of graduate studies at Bethel College;
· Charles E. Thomas, director of schools in Union County. Interviews are predicted to last about 90 minutes each and board members will evaluate them on the same grading scale. Results will be tabulated and the top two candidates will have a second interview May 5 and 6, board officials said.
The new director will be announced "shortly thereafter," McNeese said.
Salary will be negotiated and a contract for up to three years signed.
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at email@example.com.