By MARINA WATERS
The Washington County Board of Education named an interim director of schools just over a month ago and now Interim Director of Schools Bill Flanary could soon have an official interim contract to match.
BOE Chairman Jack Leonard confirmed to the Herald & Tribune that an interim director of schools contract will be up for consideration by the school board’s Monday, July 9, meeting.
Leonard said the interim contract includes a $130,050 salary, which is the same amount Kimber Halliburton was earning at the time of her resignation. The chairman also said the contract is retroactive to June 1, Flanary’s first official day in the position.
“It will be an interim decision until the board so chooses to make it permanent or if they decide to do a (director of schools) search,” Leonard said.
The board discussed the interim contract at last month’s BOE meeting, but the recommendation, which came through the finance committee report, was tabled in a 6-3 vote.
BOE member and Finance Committee Chairman Phillip McLain said at the meeting that Flanary had seen the contract and that the board attorney had drafted the document. However, Chairman Leonard had not seen the contract at the time of the meeting, which some board members saw as a concern.
“The chairman has always negotiated contracts with the director,” Board member Todd Ganger said. “I don’t understand why we didn’t do that this time. So I’d like, personally, for us to do that and do it correctly, the way we’ve done it in the past. Why we’re not doing that, I don’t understand.”
Board members Clarence Mabe, Mike Masters, Phillip McLain, Ganger, Keith Ervin and Leonard were in favor of tabling the contract at the June board meeting. Board members David Hammond, Mary Beth Dellinger and Annette Buchanan were opposed.
As for the search for the next Director of Schools in Washington County, it’s hard to tell just when that will come to fruition.
Leonard, who opted out of running for reelection in the upcoming August election, said he felt waiting until the next set of board members is decided is the best way to go.
“I know my preference, even though I’m going off the board, would be to wait until you got the new board on,” Leonard said, “because those are the individuals who will have to work with whoever they choose.”
According to Tennessee Code Annotated 49-2-203 14 (A), a board of education cannot negotiate a director’s contract 45 days before and 30 days following an election, thus restricting the board until Sept. 1. However, interim director contracts are not under this same constraint.
Timing isn’t the only aspect the BOE has to consider; at the June meeting, the school board also discussed selecting an organization to conduct a search for the next director.
Ganger suggested the board use Tennessee School Boards Association, the group that conducted the school system’s last search in 2016. He also said because the previous director remained in her position just under two years, the TSBA search would be conducted at no cost. His motion to use TSBA to conduct a director search, however, failed in a 6-3 vote.
“We would have the process started,” Ganger said. “It’s not a short process. It takes time. We could get the process started and then yes, it would be up to the new board that comes on who ends up interviewing and deciding whoever it is.”
Board members Masters, Ganger, and Leonard voted in favor of Ganger’s motion to use TSBA to conduct a director search. Board members Buchanan, Dellinger, McLain, Ervin, Mabe and Hammond voted against the motion.
McLain said he felt the board should wait to start the search. He also suggested the board consider other organizations for the director search, citing a group he said a local system recently used to find recommended candidates.
“We’ve used TSBA twice and I think the world of those folks down there,” McLain said, “But at the same time, I think we need to wait a few months and let Dr. Flanary get this new school year started.
“I’d also like to see us check into a program, like a local organization to look at some other folks and make some recommendations. I think before we sign a contract with TSBA, I think we need to look at that.”
The next BOE meeting will be held on Monday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington County Department of Education’s Central Office, located at 405 W College Street, Jonesborough.