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School Board takes steps to hire director by next year

Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 5:04 am

Dr. Rebecca Sharber’s contract doesn’t expire for almost a year, but the process to fill the Franklin County director of schools’ position is expected to be extensive, and it could take nearly that long to complete.

Dr. Sharber with exiting school board member Chris Mcdonough.

Dr. Sharber with exiting school board member Chris Mcdonough.

Sharber, who has been the Franklin County system’s leader the past six years, is retiring on June 30, 2015.

The Franklin County Board of Education began the process Monday to fill her shoes by fielding input from the Tennessee School Boards Association, which specializes in school superintendent field searches and was instrumental in finding and introducing Sharber to Franklin County when she was hired.

Dr. Tammy Grissom, TSBA executive director, addressed the board about what services the association offers to help school systems find suit-able administrative candidates.

Grissom said TSBA would handle the process to advertise the position, field candidates, review their applications and narrow the list to between two and five prospects for the board to choose from.

She said TSBA offers a $5,000 service to take care of those details and another one at $8,500 where community meetings would be held additionally.

Chairman Kevin Caroland said Tuesday that the School Board had gone with the $8,500 search process when Sharber was hired. He added that board members learned a great deal about what they deem a school director’s qualifications should be and could go through the hiring effort without the additional lengthy time frame required to conduct a series of meetings.

Caroland told the board Monday that no matter which approach it decides to take in the candidate selection process, it’s going to take consider-able time to reach a final decision.
“I don’t think we can get started soon enough,” he said.

The board agreed to review the matter further at its Sept. 8 meeting.

Grissom recommended the board should first set a hiring date, then go back from there to set up the interview dates so they can be worked into the schedule to make the hiring elements go as smoothly as possible.
Board member Christine Hopkins asked how far the search could extend.

Grissom said with the Internet, and TSBA being part of a school boards association nationwide network, the search could easily cover the United States.

She said what TSBA would do for Franklin County has been done with numerous school systems across the state.

Grissom said TSBA will handle the groundwork to narrow the candidate list to whatever the board agrees on — usually between two and five finalists.

She said TSBA is very familiar with the procedures and has considerable experience with them. She added that, in many cases, TSBA has the same applicants applying at different school systems and is more familiar with those who are not qualified to make the finalist list.

Caroland said he favors candidates who have strong financial and administrative backgrounds, which have been Sharber’s strengths.

He said the board could consider hiring a private firm to do what TSBA does, but it would probably cost between $20,000 and $25,000.

“I don’t think they could do a better job than we could do (with TSBA),” Caroland said, adding that the move would be worth the cost.

He said having TSBA screen the applicants would ensure sincerity to the process if a local candidate were to become the top choice because it is an outside source, independent from the school system.

“If there’s a local finalist, there’s more credibility than if we conducted the process ourselves,” Caroland said.