Look locally to fill Knox job

Sandra Clark

Knox County school board will take a year and hire a search firm to find a director of schools, following the surprise announcement by Dr. Jim McIntyre that he’s stepping down in July.

But board members should look first at surrounding counties, especially Blount and Union where Dr. Mike Winstead (Maryville) and Dr. Jimmy Carter are doing great work to manage local school districts. A third choice is Dr. Donna Wright, director of schools in Wilson County.

These are just three people I know and admire. There are other appointed directors with proven results. Many would view the Knox County job as a grand opportunity. Those interested in the job should be vetted.

Carter’s Union County record is impressive:

■ He operates the school system within its budget and has healed wounds with the county commission.

■ He has implemented state and federal standards without the all-out revolt we’ve had in Knox County. That’s because he treats professionals with the respect each deserves.

■ He has empowered principals and teachers to work collaboratively to target test results and improve scores. The most recent state tests showed marked improvement in value added assessments, and two schools were ranked as “rewards schools.”

Sure, Union County has a ways to go in both funding and academic achievement. But Carter and the school board have the system on the right track, and kids will benefit from their efforts. Knox County educators could learn from Union County – at least those who don’t think they already know everything.

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