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Superintendent search: After candidate withdraws, Knox County hunt for new schools chief down to two finalists

A community question-and-answer session is planned Feb. 17. The school board is expected to vote on its choice Feb. 22.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE: A Georgia candidate to become Knox County Schools superintendent has withdrawn his name, leaving the finalist field at two.

Kirk Shrum of Henry County Schools withdrew Monday, according to KCS.

That leaves Linda Cash, director of schools for Bradley County Schools in Tennessee, and in-house candidate Jon Rysewyk, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer.

The public is welcome to hear from the two finalists 6 p.m. Thursday in a forum at Bearden High School, 8352 Kingston Pike.

The public is welcome and encouraged to submit questions for both Cash and Rysewyk. You can do so here.

You'll also find out more about both education administrators at that same link.

PREVIOUS STORY: Knox County's nine school board members received names and recommendations Wednesday night for the finalists in line to become the next superintendent.

The months-long process is about to accelerate, with the Knox County Board of Education likely to pick a new leader at its Feb. 22 meeting.

It met 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building downtown. You can watch educators discuss the candidates in the video below.

The search firm returned three finalists for the board to choose from.

Credit: KCS
Jon Rysewyk

One candidate was Jon Rysewyk, Knox County Schools assistant superintendent and chief academic officer. Rysewyk has extensive experience in the Knoxville education community. He's been a teacher, a principal and an administrator in KCS and also previously led the county's first charter school, Emerald Academy.

Credit: BCS
Linda Cash

Another finalist was Dr. Linda Cash, who serves as the superintendent of Bradley County Schools, near Cleveland, Tennessee. It has a population of 9,400 students and she served as a teacher in various states for 18 years.

Credit: Kirk Shrum

And the last finalist was Mr. Kirk Shrum, who works in Henry County Schools with around 43,000 students. He was a former principal in Fulton County Schools in Georgia and worked in Hamilton County in Tennessee in the past. He has nine years of experience as a teacher.

RELATED: KCS superintendent finalist withdraws from search process

Interviews are planned for next week. The board is expected to use a list of recommended questions from the search firm and asked candidates to prepare a 20-minute presentation addressing those questions ahead of their interviews.

Superintendent Bob Thomas announced last year he'd retire at the end of this school year. The board has agreed to offer a base salary of $250,000 for the next leader of the system that consists of some 60,000 students.

KCS is the third-largest public system in the state.

The Tennessee School Boards Association has been screening and reviewing potential candidates to help the board. At least 18 people applied, including a handful of educators from Tennessee.

Others who have expressed an interest in the job, as previously reported, are listed below. Officials with the firm said one applicant received a job in Florida and two withdrew with no reason provided.

The list of previous candidates are below:

  • Jeff Perry, superintendent of schools in Hamblen County
  • Christopher Bernier, chief of staff, Clark County, Nev., School District, Las Vegas
  • Gregory Brown, division superintendent, Russell County Public Schools, Lebanon, Va.
  • Jharrett Bryantt, executive officer and assistant superintendent, Houston Independent School District, Houston, Texas
  • Joseph Centamore, deputy superintendent, South Huntington School District, Huntington Station, N.Y.
  • Vincent Colaluca, executive director, Hamilton Clermont Cooperative (Information Technology Center), Loveland, Ohio.
  • Jerry Gibson, superintendent, Galveston Independent School District, Galveston, Texas
  • David Hicks, superintendent, Bremen City Schools, Bremen, Ga.
  • Randy Mahlerwein, assistant superintendent of secondary schools, Mesa Public Schools, Mesa, Ariz.
  • Amy Rex, superintendent, Milton Town School District, Milton, Vt.
  • Kirk Shrum, chief school leadership officer, Henry County Schools, McDonough, Ga.
  • Adam Steel, superintendent, SAU No. 39 - Amherst, Mont Vernon, and Souhegan Cooperative School Districts, Amherst, N.H.
  • John Tucker, superintendent, Camden County Schools, Kingsland, Ga.

Other Tennessee names on the list: James "Chip" Gray, principal, Paris Special School District, Paris, Tenn.; Joseph Miller, physical education teacher, Morgan County Schools, Coalfield, Tenn.; Bobby Wells, teacher, West Valley Middle School, Knox County Schools.

Thomas announced last fall he planned to retire at the end of this school year. He's been with KCS for nearly 50 years. He's been superintendent since spring 2017.

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