24 apply to be Knox Co. Schools Superintendent

The deadline to apply to be the new Knox County Schools Superintendent has passed.The final number of applicants is 24.

In a last minute rush Knox County Board of Education members were hoping for, the number of applicants for Knox County Schools Superintendent jumped to 24 just before the end-of-day deadline.

On Friday morning, there had only been 11 applicants.

The deadline to apply closed at 4 p.m. Friday. There are 24 official applicants, with one additional application that wasn't completed. 

There are two internal candidates and at least one other local candidate, according to KCS spokesperson Carly Harrington.

"I sensed a little bit of panic earlier in the week," said Patti Bounds, Chair of the BOE.

More: List: Knox County Schools Superintendent candidates

On Monday, member Amber Rountree, who is also overseeing the three-person superintendent search committee, said she hoped more people applied by the end of the week.

“I would like to see some more folks and I have heard there are more folks planning to apply, and they just haven’t gotten their material together,” she said.

The committee responsible for the search is made up of Rountree, Tony Norman and Susan Horn.

Friday morning, Norman told 10News he was hopeful there would be more than 11 applicants.

"I especially hope we'll get a few internal candidates," said Norman.

The names of the two internal candidates were not immediately available.

There is at least one local applicant. Dale Lynch, who currently serves as Hamblen County Schools Superintendent, applied Friday morning.

"I had heard he was going to apply and I'm glad he did," said Bounds.

Receiving 24 applicants for this position is a 'win' for the board, who went about the recruiting process differently than they had in the past.

"I'm excited about the process. This is a little bit different than it's normally done. Many school systems in our area use outside search firms," said Bounds.

Outside search firms can cost up to $80,000. Knox County Schools used one in 2008, when Dr. Jim McIntyre was selected. 

Bounds said not using an outside search firm will give them more control over the candidates. Norman agrees.

"Sometimes those search firms also have some preferred candidates, so they'll eliminate people on their side before we even get to see them," said Norman.

On the morning of Jan. 17,  the three-member search committee is scheduled to look at who has applied. Rountree says the goal is to identify perhaps five solid candidates from among all who have applied and go from there.

Norman says the people in his top five will be applicants who have "a heart for the classroom" and "significant administrative experience and experience with large school districts."

Bounds agrees with Norman's desire to have a superintendent with classroom experience. She also hopes their new chief will have many of the leadership qualities Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas has.

"He is very much a servant leader. He understands the role of the board and of the superintendent," said Bounds.

For now, the superintendent search is closed. However, Bounds says it could reopen at any time if the current applicants are not up to standards.

Bounds said the hope is to have a new superintendent in place by summer, but are willing to sacrifice that timeline for the right person.

"More importantly is getting the right person. The last two left without completing their contracts and I don't want to see that happen again," said Bounds.

PREVIOUS STORY: With a Friday deadline looming, Knox County school board members say they’d like to see more candidates apply to be the next superintendent.

As of Monday, nine people have put their names in to lead the district of some 59,500 students and 8,000 employees.                                                        

Board members briefly discussed at a workshop Monday night details of the application process.

Member Amber Rountree is overseeing the search on a mini-committee that consists of her, Tony Norman and Susan Horn. Rountree says she’s not ready yet to end the process right now.

“I would like to see some more folks and I have heard there are more folks planning to apply, and they just haven’t gotten their material together,” she said.


On the morning of Jan. 17,  the three-member search committee is scheduled to look at who has applied.  Rountree says the goal is to identify perhaps five solid candidates from among all who have applied and go from there.

Applicants so far include people who have overseen smaller districts and some charter schools.

“I like how the process is going so far and I’m not discouraged at all,” Norman told 10News. “Some are a little bit (discouraged) in the slow response, a little bit of a slow response. But I think we’ll have several right here at the end.”


Board members aim to offer somewhere between $200,000 and $240,000 a year for the position. Norman said it’s possible the market might demand more for such a leadership position, but he also thinks someone making an annual salary of $240,000 would be very comfortable in East Tennessee.

Board member Lynne Fugate on Monday night expressed concerns whether $240,000 would be adequate to draw the kind of candidate they’re looking for.

It’s possible the search committee could come back to the board with a recommendation that the search process continue.

“While we do have a timeline, the board is most focused on finding the best leader for Knox County Schools," Rountree said. "So, if we do have to take some additional time to do so, we’re willing to do that. We don’t want to rush into a decision. We want the very best person to lead our district to make our schools the best in the South.”

Buzz Thomas of the Great Schools Partnership has agreed to serve as interim leader until this summer. Superintendent Jim McIntyre left the system last summer after about eight years.

(© 2017 WBIR)


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