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Committee holds meetings with leaders and community in search for next Knox Co. Schools superintendent

Thursday was a full day for the committee and Tennessee School Boards Association as they pushed forward in the superintendent search.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Elected officials are among those who were invited to attend and offer input at a Dec. 2 forum luncheon to weigh in on the search for Knox County Schools' next superintendent.

The Knox County Board of Education Superintendent Search Committee held the luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Summit Hill Drive to gather input and officials' views.

Among those invited: Knoxville's and Knox County's mayors, school board members, county commissioners and city council members. The public was also invited to attend and listen.

Officials shared their thoughts on the search and what they felt were important qualities the next superintendent would need to have.

A questionnaire handed out at the meeting asked them to indicate which qualities they wanted most in the next superintendent, ranging from experience, postgraduate education, communication skills, and even their sense of humor.

The luncheon also had leaders provide input on issues and challenges facing the school district and community.

Thursday was a full day for the committee and Tennessee School Boards Association as they pushed forward in the superintendent search.

Starting at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day, they began conducting stakeholder meetings with employees, central office staff, and system administrators.

The Knox County School Board Superintendent Search Committee Chair Evetty Satterfield said she's been getting good feedback so far. She said they're gaining a clear idea of what they're looking for. 

"Someone that's up for the challenge. We're in an interesting spot when it comes to education," she said. “Someone that can establish culture, establish trust within our community and more importantly give our kids the equal opportunity that they should have for all of our schools."

Elected officials praised the district's current operations, allowing flexibility for schools to operate independently depending on what that community wants.

"Somebody's that willing to stand up and stand into this role of leadership. Not only stand in leadership but help us move our school district forward so that our kids can benefit and we see academic gains," Evetty said. 

Several community leaders said they want to see a superintendent who focuses on diversity, vocational programs, parent involvement, learning loss and equal opportunity for students.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs says he wants to see someone who has business literacy take that position.

"We want somebody that has integrity, character, strong leadership skills organizational skills. I also think that we need someone who understands how to align the education system with business and industry, " he said. "It's two-fold. It's ensuring our young people can succeed as individuals but it's also insuring we have a good workforce going forward so our economy can grow."

He wants kids to be presented with equal opportunity in which ever life route they decide to take.

"Not everybody has the same skills. Not everybody has the same talents. Academics are really important but also making sure that when kids come out of high school that they're prepared whether they're going to go to college, whether they're going to go to trade school, whether they're going to go straight into the workforce," Jacobs said.

Then at 6 p.m., they scheduled a community forum.

If you want to leave your own feedback about the system and the superintendent search, there's an online link that would save you from making a trip to the Dec. 2 evening community forum.

You'll find even more information about the search here.

Superintendent Bob Thomas is retiring after more than 40 years in the spring at the end of the current school year. The three-member search committee is tasked with finding his replacement.

Knox County Schools has more than 59,000 students, more than 8,000 staff members and more than 80 schools. It is the third-largest public district in the state.

Credit: WBIR
East Tower of TVA complex, new home of Knox County Schools.