The Loudon County
School Board's committee to head up the evaluation of county
school's Director Wayne Honeycutt, met Tuesday morning to
discuss the evaluations from board members and how to proceed
with a recommendation to the full board on whether or not to
renew Honeycutt's contract.
The director was hired in 2008 and the board decided to forego
an evaluation last year. Committee Chairman Gary Ubben
distributed the evaluation forms the board used and their
respective answers along with a spread sheet reflecting the
questions and asked how much diversity there is in the board's
answers to those questions.
The top areas of concern expressed by board members were low
scores on questions including "provides clear, concise
presentation and explanations of the budget and the budget
The budget process as been described as chaotic in recent years
due to conflicts with the county commission, internal conflicts
on the board and shrinking funds from the county, the state and
the federal government.
Other top areas of concern noted by the board included how
Honeycutt informs the public of the system's missions and goals;
how he keeps the board informed on issues; how he accesses the
needs of parents and community members and keeps them involved
in the decision making process; how he professionally advises
the board on issues and issuing recommendations and provides the
board with "a realistic set of clear and measurable annual
The board expressed high agreement on what they feel Honeycutt
is doing right including assuring a balanced program of
professional development to enhance the curriculum;
communicating with the school building committees and staying
informed of progress of the building projects; maintaining a
professional working relationship with the school board;
demonstrating understanding of state and federal laws and
Department of Education regulations; and, there was the most
agreement that Honeycutt maintains "high standards of ethics,
honesty and integrity."
Ubben told the committee that a recommendation to the full board
would be needed before Dec. 31, 2010 on whether or not to retain
Honeycutt as director of the county schools. If such a
recommendation is not made, it would be the equivalent of giving
him six months notice his position would not be renewed. The
board could also vote to extend Honeycutt's contract but Ubben
said his instincts, and comments he has heard from other board
members, lead him to believe "several would not vote for an
Committee member Bobby Johnson, Jr. said the first order of
business was to distribute the results of the evaluations to the
board and let them discuss issues with Honeycutt himself."He
can't fix what he doesn't know is wrong," Johnson said of
Honeycutt. Ubben noted that many of the problems could be a case
of the board members not making their expectations clear given
the changing makeup of the board and the budget struggles that
have dominated the school system since Honeycutt came on board.
He also noted it could be a case of the board members "taking
our frustration out on Mr. Honeycutt."
Johnson said some board members have said they want Honeycutt to
be more vocal about the building program and other issues. They
want you to look like you've got the bull by the horns," he told
Addressing some of the comments made during the meeting,
Honeycutt said that when he was interviewed for the position two
of his three top goals were to improve student achievement and
the third was to get the building program under way.
Given the situation between the board and the county commission
when he took over, Honeycutt said "I think we've made progress
there, budget and relationship, wise." He also noted the
numerous changes in personnel in the Central Office and among
Johnson said one issue voiced by board members is the feeling
they get during school board meetings when they ask an
administrator to clarify a point or answer a question about
school programs. He said the staff sometimes makes it seem "we
don't have the right to ask anything" and he noted many board
members take exception when school administrators "roll their
eyes" at questions asked by board members during board meetings.
Johnson acknowledged the eye rolling had been done at meetings
before Honeycutt took the job.
Ubben said "it (the school system) is an exceedingly difficult
organization to manage" given the diverse personalities on the
school board, the constant conflict with the county commission,
maintenance issues in the schools and the controversial building
program. He also noted the board sometimes gets so caught up in
the little things on a meeting agenda, they don't have time for
the big issues. He said the director should provide vision for
the system and exert more leadership over the various
personalities on the board.
Honeycutt said that he spends a lot of time balancing the two
opposing positions on the building program and their sometimes
extreme views while keeping the agreed upon Phase I intact.
"It's a very, very delicate balance and it would take very
little to blow that concept apart," Honeycutt said. Ubben again
acknowledged that some answers on the evaluation "may reflect
some of our own frustrations."
Board member Lisa Russell said she was disappointed Honeycutt
had not taken the lead when the media was descending on
Greenback School to cover the school's closure over gas leaks.
Honeycutt said that while he wasn't at every appearance of a TV
camera, his staff did not address the media without clearing any
statements with him first. Ubben said this was part of the
problem and that Honeycutt needs to be more visible to the media
as the "outside face" of the system.
Johnson agreed citing the Director of Lenoir City Schools Wayne
Miller as an example of how to represent the system. Ubben said
he felt the items added or taken off the meeting agendas are an
example of Honeycutt's lack of leadership and control of the
board. "You've lost control of the board in many ways," Ubben
The committee agreed it would take some time for the full board
to see the results of the evaluation, which they will be given
Thursday night at the board's workshop meeting. Honeycutt will
be able to meet with individual board members before coming up
with a list of concrete goals and his plans to address them. The
committee agreed to meet April 27 at 9:30 a.m. in the LCTC
Building in Lenoir City to go over the final recommendations to
the full board.