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The Scoop - School director job wide open
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I was engaged in a conversation Tuesday morning about Warren County's director of schools position when the following statement was made.

"We all know these meetings are nothing more than a formality," I was told. "We all know who they're going to hire."

This was news to me, especially after I sat through Monday night's meeting where School Board members discussed the 10 applicants on an official basis for the first time.

"So who are they going to hire?" I asked out of curiosity.

"We all know it's going to be Courtney Bennett," this person told me.

It's a statement that caught me by surprise because from what I've heard on the street, the prevailing thought is the job is going to Autumn Turner.

What's important to stress is it doesn't matter what most people think. It doesn't matter what I think.

When it comes to our next director of schools, the only people who matter are our School Board members. It's their job to hire a new director. It's a group that's been reduced from six to five since James Bennett has recused himself since his wife is seeking the job.

Turner and Courtney Bennett are the two local candidates who were declared finalists Monday night. They will be granted interviews along with White County High School principal Grant Swallows and Franklin County principal Roger Alsup.

Here are a few of my thoughts from Monday's initial meeting:

• This is a wide open job and I don't think a local candidate is guaranteed to be our next school director. I know the logic going in is that a local person would get the job and everyone else should sit on the sideline, but School Board members made some positive comments about other applicants so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

• Four was the magic number.

I don't know if the number four came to someone in a trance or what happened, but several members of the School Board were determined to interview no more than four candidates for the job.

A vote to increase the number of candidates to interview to five was rejected. I think this decision came back to hurt the board almost immediately because David Martin, superintendent at School of the Blind in Nashville, wasn't even granted an interview because it was limited to only four. Several board members really liked Martin.

• Having only five voting School Board members creates an interesting dynamic.

With James Bennett recusing himself, there's not much margin for error when it requires four votes to take action on a five-member board. This was evident when two board members banded together and refused to interview more than four. 

Three votes isn't enough to accomplish anything. This means just two people can band together to block any action -- or any candidate. 

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.