School board to thin list of candidates

By Hugh G. Willett

The Loudon County school board will hold a called meeting Monday night to narrow the list of possible candidates for the position of schools director.

Current schools director Wayne Honeycutt will leave the position in July after two years. The board decided in December not to renew Honeycutt's contract.

The Tennessee School Board Association is assisting the board with the search. The board contracted with TSBA at a cost of $5,000 to advertise the position and narrow the pool of applicants.

The list includes 16 professional educators, with 14 from outside the school system. The candidates' experience ranges from middle school principal to superintendent of schools.

The two in-house candidates are Jason Vance, assistant schools director, and Tim Berry, principal at North Middle school in Lenoir City. Berry is also a former assistant director in the Loudon system.

During the meeting at the County Office Building on Monday night, TSBA Executive Director Randall Bennett will present a list of five candidates to the board. Bennett will also present sample questions that the board can ask the candidates.

The board will also have the opportunity to discuss other possible candidates.

At a regular board meeting Thursday night the board will vote on the final list.

On April 15, the board will interview all five of the final candidates. The candidates will also be invited to meet the community at an event to be held later this month.

School board member Van Shaver said he hopes the board can move quickly with the selection process.

"We have to start working on the next year's budget," he said.

Among the critical issues are the long-awaited school building program. The board and county commission are still debating funding and other priorities for the first phase of the building program.

During Honeycutt's performance evaluation last year, some members of the board criticized him for a lack of leadership on the school building program. The school board and county commission have been at odds over the scope and cost of the program for at least five years.