The National Superintendent Search – I Cannot Support

Over the past few months, there has been an effort  to conduct a superintendent search.

From a historical standpoint, two votes were taken several months ago. One vote was to not renew Kriner Cash’s contract. I think that was the right thing to do at the time to make sure that there was a path to one superintendent. We also had a subsequent vote to not renew John Aitken’s contract that failed. Again ,I believe it was the right vote to make sure that John remained in place through the remainder of his contract in 2015.

However, a movement still emerged to conduct a national search for a superintendent with the thought that the process would create a legitimate superintendent that all communities could rally behind. That makes sense to me if I thought that was realistic. However, I do not think it is realistic.

As a result, a superintendent ad hoc committee was formed to create a process for a superintendent search. This committee met for several weeks and created a process for a national search. That process has been finalized and reviewed by our board. Tomorrow night, we will take a final vote to approve the process to move forward with a superintendent search.

I have been in opposition to a national superintendent search since this has started. As a matter of fact, I oppose any superintendent search at this time. I like John Aitken. However, my reasons are based more in tangible impacts.

I believe that it is reckless and irresponsible to conduct a superintendent search during the middle of a merger. We currently have significant impacts to teachers, administrators, and students due to the change in state laws on how we measure progress and how we evaluate teachers. The testing component is extremely rigorous and the pressure is breaking even our best teachers. After you layer on this poorly timed and reckless charter surrender, you create an environment that is not conducive to exemplary learning and impact educational outcomes. We stand to lose so many great teachers to retirement this year which could substantially impact the quality of the SCS and MCS systems.

Much like any leader that is loved and brings district stability, John Aitken is a stabilizing force in the SCS district. John Aitken has:

1) Been involved in every facet of merger planning from TPC meetings to development of the overall merger plan.

2) Sat in front of the county commission and asked for funding for the new district and pushed all to begin merger implementation

3) Been there to console and walk with so many of our people in the district due to teacher deaths and tragedies.

4) Has been at every board meeting standing up for what he thinks is right for this district

5) TN Superintendent of the Year

John is needed to steer the merger through its completion and be allowed to serve out his contract. However, I believe that a vote to conduct a national superintendent search by its very nature tells John that he is not the guy. John does not deserve to be treated this way and our educators do not deserve more instability.

I feel very strongly about the need to create a continuum of leadership through the end of the merger. If John is not going to be that guy, then  i would be open to buying out his contract. I also believe that a national superintendent search will yield  no more quality than what we have today. If John is not the man, than I would be open to renewing Kriner Cash’s contract for an extra year to finish guiding us through the merger.

But a national superintendent search I cannot and will not support at this time. It may be the right move to salve political promises and create a false sense of “unity” but it is NOT in the best interest of our educators.

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