By Crystal Burns
The Trenton Special School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday evening to select Peabody principal Tim Haney as the next Director of Schools.
“The board has spoken, and the community has spoken,” said Dr. Mark Harper, board chairman. “My decision was in the best interest of our students and our school system.”
Because state law does not allow a school board to enter into a contract with a director 45 days prior to an election or until 30 days after an election, Haney won’t assume the title or the position until September 5. Dr. Harper said that the board would begin negotiations with Haney in the hopes of having a contract ready for the September 5 meeting.
TSSD taxpayers will vote on three school board positions on August 3. Throughout the interview process, Dr. Harper asked the candidates to attend all interviews and communicate their concerns and ideas to the sitting board.
“We constantly got feedback from the candidates through this process,” Dr. Harper said.
Sherry Whitby, who is stepping down after 16 years on the board, announced before casting her ballot that she and her successor, Justin Weaver, who is running unopposed, supported Haney.
“I talked to Justin after every interview,” Whitby said after the meeting. “We were on the same page all the way through.”
Current director Sandra Harper, who has been in the role nine years, announced her resignation in April. She had one year remaining on her contract, which the board voted to forgive. She initially announced a resignation date of June 30 with plans to stay on as an advisor but later amended that to reflect a retirement date of August 31.
In April, the board opted to hire the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) to conduct its candidate search. With the criterion the local board provided, the TSBA narrowed the field of 16 to three finalists: Dr. Janice Epperson, Jackson-Madison County School System; Suzanne Keefe, Halls High School; and Haney. The board conducted interviews with each candidate in June.
On June 22, board members voted for their top two candidates with three selecting Keefe first and Haney second, and two choosing Haney first and Keefe second. With no consensus, they set additional interviews for Keefe and Haney, which were held earlier this week.
More than 100 people attended Haney’s second interview. Around 50 people were on hand for the final vote Thursday. The audience clapped after the ballots were read.
“I think our students will be well served, and that’s the main thing,” Whitby said.
Get the full story in The Gazette on newsstands Tuesday, July 18.