Director Replacement Should Wait

In the last school board election in 2004, five new members were elected to the board. Several of those new members had openly campaigned on a platform of replacing director of schools, Edward Headlee, if they were elected. However just weeks before the new members took office, the previous board extended Headlee's contract by four years. The new incoming board members were then essentially powerless to remove Headlee without buying out his contract which would have been very costly.

 In August of this year, there will be another school board election. All seats in the odd numbered districts will be up for election. This means there is the potential for a six seat change to the school board. That would be more than a fifty percent change in the board.

Current director of schools Headlee, will be retiring at the end of this school year in June. In anticipation of Headlee's retirement, a director search committee was established last year to began the hunt for a new director. Later in the year, new board chairman, Bobby Johnson Jr., abolished that committee opting rather for the entire school board to handle hiring a new director.

At the board's recent retreat to Gatlinburg, which by the way, violated the states Sun Shine Law, the board began in earnest preparing to hire a new director. The board heard from the consultant hired to come up with an "A" list of candidates who have applied for the position.

Given the potential of a large turn over in the BOE come August, the Loudon County board of education should give serious consideration of suspending the search for a new director till after the August election. There may be no change in the boards membership in August, on the other hand there may be a large change. It would be very unfortunate if new incoming board members had no input in the selection of a new director that they will have to work with. Given the current boards track record of decision making, it might be better for everyone if the board waited to make any decisions.