Loudon County school board sets plan to replace director

By Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
The Loudon County school board on Thursday night established procedures to be used in the search for a new director of schools.

The board began the search last month after declining to renew the contract of current schools Director Wayne Honeycutt, who has been on the job since July 2008. Honeycutt's contract will expire in June 2011.

The board considered issues including qualifications, salary and whether to hire an outside search firm to assist in the hiring process.

One of the most contentious issues discussed was whether the board should have to reach a two-thirds majority on the hiring decision or if a simple majority would be acceptable.

"I don't think you'll get a two-thirds majority on anything with this board," said board member Van Shaver.

Ric Best, who joined the board in August, said he thought that the board could come to a unanimous decision on the candidate to choose for director.

Board member Gary Ubben said that if he was a candidate he would be leery of working for a board that could not come to a two-thirds majority. In such a situation a director might be only one vote away from losing majority support, he said.

In a specially called meeting after the workshop, the board agreed to stay with the two-thirds requirement.

The board discussed qualifications for the position, agreeing that a minimum of a master's degree would be required.

Ubben cautioned that too many qualifications might "box" the board into a position where it could not choose the best candidate.

Best, a career educator, said he would like to see requirements for actual classroom teaching experience. During the discussion that followed, the board discussed a range of experience necessary before agreeing that the state minimum of three years' teaching experience required for a master's degree in education would be sufficient.

The board discussed whether to advertise a salary range for the position. Honeycutt's annual salary was about $113,000.

After some discussion it was agreed that the board would advertise that the salary would be competitive and based on experience. The board also agreed that performance incentives would be a part of the salary package. The duration of the director's contract was agreed to be three years.

The board also discussed whether to use the Tennessee School Boards Association to assist in the search. Although the board had voted previously not to use TSBA, after some discussion the board voted to use the organization, with Shaver the only dissenting vote.