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Finalists for next Knox Co. Schools superintendent down to two options

On one hand, KCS may be led by Dr. Linda Cash, the director of Bradley County Schools. On the other, they may be led by the current assistant superintendent.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After Knox County Schools decided to hire the Tennessee School Board Association in their search for a new school superintendent, they whittled the options down to two options.

It was three, but one candidate unexpectedly withdrew his name from the search process on Monday — Kirk Shrum, who worked with Henry County Schools in Georgia.

Now, the remaining candidates are listed below:

  • Dr. Linda Cash, Director of Schools, Bradley County Schools, in Cleveland, Tenn.
  • Dr. Jon Rysewyk, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, Knox County Schools

Dr. Cash is the director of Bradley County Schools, a county near Chattanooga in southeastern Tennessee. It has a population of around 10,000 students in 17 schools — around a sixth the population of Knox County Schools.

Around 33% of students scored "on track" or "mastered" on annual state tests in Bradley County, according to the Tennessee Department of Education. That's around 2% more than Knox County Schools. BCS also exceeded the 95% federal participation rate for the TCAP exam, while Knox County fell just short at 93%.

The county spends around $9,805 per student and spent a total of around $92 million in total during the last school year. IT has around 664 teachers on staff with a 91% teacher retention rate.

Meanwhile, Knox County Schools spent around $10,056 per student and around $580 million in total during the last school year. It has around 4,448 teachers on staff with around the same teacher retention rate, according to data from the state.

"Cash, she seems very qualified," said Virginia Babb, a Knox County Schools board member. "I know her district actually loves her, from what I'm hearing."

On the other hand, Dr. Rysewyk is the assistant superintendent and Chief Academic Officer in Knox County. He previously worked as the director of Emerald Academy and as the Executive Director of Innovation and School Improvement.

Both have decades of experience.

"What I'm looking for is really, someone like a strong leader that will come in," said Babb. "We need someone that can really make some big decisions, and stand by their decisions."

Parents will have a chance to hear from both candidates Thursday night as they answer questions at Bearden High school at 6 p.m. The meeting will be open to the public.

You can watch the superintendent candidates answer questions below.

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