By MARINA WATERS
It’s been nearly four months since Washington County’s Director of Schools stepped down from her post. Could the naming of a new director be on the horizon for the county school system?
Board member Keith Ervin, who is the newly elected chairman of the nine-member board, addressed the subject at the school board’s Thursday, Sept. 6, meeting, asking if the board wanted to make a move on a director’s contract. He mentioned that part of the hold up has been due to the state law that does not allow a school board to enter, change or negotiate a superintendent’s contract 45 days before an election and 30 days following.
“We can’t do anything with director’s contract 30 days after an election,” Ervin said. “That’s passed. Then, we have to advertise (that the contract will be discussed) for 15 days before we can do anything with a contract.”
The school system’s director of secondary education, Bill Flanary, has served as the interim director of schools for the past four months, receiving high praise from multiple board members at public meetings. However, that temporary position could become permanent, should board members choose to name Flanary to the post.
But before considering scheduling a meeting to negotiate any contract, board member Todd Ganger mentioned conducting a director search.
Ganger’s motion to enlist the Tennessee School Board Association to do the search failed in a 3-6 vote with Ganger, Mitch Meredith and Jason Day voting in favor and David Hammond, Mary Beth Dellinger, Ervin, Chad Fleenor, Annette Buchanan and Phillip McLain in opposition of the motion.
The board previously voted down Ganger’s motion to use TSBA to conduct a search for the next director of schools during the board’s June meeting. Ganger explained that because the previous director resigned within 24 months of becoming the director, TSBA will offer Washington County a free director search.
To that, Meredith, a newly elected board member, said he felt the board owed it to constituents to consider all options by conducting a search.
“One of the things I wasn’t interested in doing was going through a search process,” Meredith said. “I have the utmost respect for Dr. Flanary, but if we have a free search, I gotta second it.
“I think this group has the fiduciary responsibility to these people, no disrespect, to have the best director we can have in that position. And hopefully that’s (Flanary). But how do you know that if you don’t look?”
When asked if Flanary would throw his name in the running if a search is conducted, the interim director said he wouldn’t after already being considered for the job during the county’s last search for a director.
“I won’t participate in a search,” Flanary said. “I already did that.”
The board didn’t officially decide on a date to consider any contract negotiations, but Tennessee Code Annotated 49-2-203 (14) (A) also states that a temporary director’s position should not extend “beyond sixty 60 days following the general school board election.”
By state statute, the board will also have to announce that the director’s contract will be discussed 15 days ahead of any meeting date that involves the contract. The item must also be the first listed on the agenda.