School Board to hold a community meeting

For the process of hiring a new superintendent, the Haywood County School Board set a date for a  Meeting for community members to attend and express their views about the school system and their opinion about what they are expecting in a new superintendent. The meeting was held on Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 in the Haywood High School Cafeteria. Board members had a questionnaire for community members and school employees to complete and turn in at a school or at the district office by May 17. “Your responses are completely anonymous and will be used to guide the process and selection of the new HCS Superintendent,” the announcement said.

The questions:

  1. What do you consider to be the strengths of Haywood County Schools?
  2. What new programs (if any) would you like to see implemented by the new Superintendent?
  3. What are the major challenges/problems in Haywood County Schools?
  4. What characteristics and qualities do you feel the new Superintendent should possess?
  5. Any additional comments that would assist the Board in the selection of a new Superintendent.

Community meeting elicits comments about schools

At the called community meeting in the Haywood High School cafeteria a large group of parents, teachers, other school employees and school supporters gathered to express their opinions about hiring a new superintendent. School Board members Harold Garrett, Allen Currie, Olivia Farrington, Greg Vanstory and Harrison Jones, were there to hear the community’s comments.

Some of the comments made by those who chose to speak were:

  • We need a superintendent that will move the system forward.
  • We need a superintendent who knows the statistics that will help him or her develop a plan.
  • Several speakers were complimentary of the involvement of parents, supporters and the community in the school system, and more than one speaker said that the superintendent position is the most important job in the county.
  • Several spoke about the need to better develop the special education department where there are certain needs of students that aren’t being met.
  • Another spoke of the importance of a superintendent who was more visible in the schools and spoke to the teachers and students. And another suggested that it is important that the new superintendent get along well with the staff and the community.

The board also called a meeting on Thursday night, May 18, at 7 p.m. to study the answers and suggestions on the questionnaires and to go through the all of the applications.

The goal of the board is to have selected a superintendent by June 5 so that Superintendent Russell will be able to go through a transition period with the new school leader. Mrs. Russell’s last day is June 30.

Board members passed on second reading the change to Policy #1.400 that changes board meetings to the second Thursday of each month instead of Tuesdays.

Superintendent Russell mentioned several things during her Celebration of Haywood County Schools. She mentioned the 2017 Read to Be Ready $49,146 grant that the schools received that will be used during a summer camp at the Boys and Girls Club. The goal is to increase third-grade reading proficiency.

Also she celebrated the accomplishments of two Haywood Middle School teachers, Grover Harwell and Rachel Dreyer. Harwell is one of 50 educators in Tennessee who has been chosen for the 2017-18 class of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. This is sponsored by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE). Dreyer will be participating in the Memphis Leadership Scholar Program, which is a 12-month, 30-semester hours program built upon Tennessee Instructional Leadership Standards.

She commented about the success of the Haywood High School Youth Leadership Program, under the direction of Emily Carpenter.

The board heard a request from members of the PEP program that the Haywood Middle School be changed to Tomcats instead of Warriors and the colors changed to purple and white. There was a general consensus of agreement that the change would be a positive move for the community.

Jackie Whitten requested permission to take eight to 10 students to the GEAR UP Summit at Austin Peay University in June. Board members were informed that the June 8 meeting will include the policy manual review. Policies recommended for change will be considered at this meeting.

In other business, CFO Larry Livingston announced that the Catherine Truss Colhoun Trust had an ending balance in March of $207,066,25, up more than $10,000 since the December 31, 2016, balance. The scholarship committee had met and decided once again to give six $2,000 scholarships to HHS seniors.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, June 8.