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BOE prepares for director candidate interviews

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The Washington County Board of Education is ready to get to know its top five candidates for the role of director of schools.

The school board will interview the top five in the running for the position starting this afternoon with the last interview scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24. The questions, suggested by the Tennessee School Boards Association and agreed upon by the BOE, will be part of a public interview for each candidate. 

The candidates include Jarrod Adams, Jerry Boyd, Andy Hare, Greggory Slate, and Keevin Woody. Each candidate will participate in a meeting with central office staff and principals, one with commissioners and community leaders and another with teachers and support staff. Those meetings will be followed by the public interview with the nine-member BOE. 

Slate’s interview will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 17; Hare’s will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18; Woody’s will be held on Friday, Feb. 19; Adams’ will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and Boyd’s will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 24. 

During the board’s Thursday, Feb. 11 called meeting, Board Member Mary Beth Dellinger said she wanted the candidates to answer a question regarding how much emphasis they would put on high-stakes testing and how they might “maintain a positive climate in each school.”

“They need to be able to motivate everybody,” Dellinger said.

Board Member Chad Fleenor said he wanted to talk to the candidates about the potential future plans for the career technical education programs in the school system.

“We spent $250,000 in capital investments in this past budget for CTE,” Fleenor said. “I’d like to see us ask, ‘How do you feel about building a strong CTE program in 2021?’”

For Board Member Keith Ervin, a look into how each candidate goes about hiring teachers, principals and other key members of the school system is at the top of the list.

“Ask them what their process is of hiring teachers,” Ervin said. “Will the director interview (future employees) himself or will he have a group do it? … I’d like to know their plan for hiring.”

Before the called meeting started, Ervin said he wanted to discuss the candidate questions in the downstairs conference room at the central office instead of publicly in the upstairs board room. However, the board’s attorney, Scott Bennett, in a phone call, said that would not be legal.

“We’re not hiding nothing,” Ervin said. “We’re just a group of board members coming up with the questions. And when we come up with the questions, they’re out to the public.”

Board Member Mitch Meredith said he felt deliberating outside of an open-door meeting setting went against the point of the discussion appearing on the board’s meeting agenda.

“If you’re deliberating (with other board members), you can’t do that behind closed doors,” Meredith said. “That’s what the Sunshine Law is all about.”

Each director of schools candidate interview will be held publicly at 5 p.m. Feb. 17-24. 

To livestream the meetings, to go www.wcde.org and click on “read more” when the announcement for the meeting comes across the screen.