Mickey Hall retired from Wilson County Schools as its deputy director on Dec. 31 after 28 years with the district primarily supervising finances and facilities.
“In my 28 years at WCS, beginning as Financial Director to my current position as Deputy Director of Schools, I have been proud of the strides we have made for our district. My time with the school district has filled me with a sense of purpose and belonging that none other could offer,” he wrote in a letter to district officials.
Hall was hired in February of 1993 as the district’s finance director.
“Mickey Hall’s commitment and leadership in Wilson County Schools for the last 28 years has been remarkable,” Wilson County Schools Director Dr. Donna Wright said. “He started with the district many years ago under a tumultuous time that many would have left and not looked back, but as I understand it, Mickey stayed the course and helped navigate the school system through the many years of increasingly restrictive guidance that was placed on public school districts, then and now.”
Hall started and managed the employee health insurance program, organized the WCS transportation department, pushed digital equity for students and created The Learning Center, all with the help of what he said was an “excellent” team of leaders in the district.
When Hall was hired, WCS had 600 teachers; it now has 1,400. There were 6,000 students in the district when he started; there are now 19,000. Hall served with nine directors of schools (not including himself when he was interim director in 2007). He also led the building of seven schools in the district.
“And every existing school had renovations,” Hall said.
The largest of those renovation projects was the transformation of the former Lebanon High School to the district’s Administrative and Training Complex.
“We were able to get rid of all the portables that were utilized when I came to the district,” Hall said. “I think that’s a huge accomplishment.”
Following the money
Hall’s presentation of the district’s budget to the Wilson County Commission was not smooth sailing in some years, with one sticking point often the district’s fund balance (basically savings account). However, he praised working with them “collectively” to best utilize taxpayer funds. with one sticking point the fund balance
“A $6 million fund balance at a point is low for a $160 million budget,” he said. “I would have more in there as a finance guy.”
Hall said with the help of commissioners and a sales-tax increase referendum, teachers got pay raises in 2020 with a new starting teacher salary at $41,400.
“We were able to give teachers pay raises,” Hall said. “The citizens are super. There’s a competitive nature in Tennessee and we need to keep up the pay and benefits to keep employees here.
“I feel like I left strong financials set up, and we had good audits.”
Hall retired with questions about rebuilding two tornado-damaged schools in Mt. Juliet remaining.
“We are in negotiations with the insurance company because of the scope of the work,” he said. “There are hang-ups on such big claims. We want to get as much money as possible to replace the facilities. We are close.”
Hall said he felt he was given a tremendous opportunity to work at WCS.
“To be honest, it wasn’t that great in the early 1990s and I feel we made great strides and turned the district in to a model,” said Hall. “Improvement for kids was my main point.”
Wright said Hall’s imprint on WCS will be seen for many years.
“By the many buildings that have been constructed in the last decade to accommodate growth, but also to the extensive renovation of many of the existing buildings that have been well-maintained,” she said last month. “This is high tribute to someone whose primary role has been budget and finance, but took on the role of becoming an operations manager, too. We wish him the very best as he transitions into retirement.”
Hall said he has some opportunities in the private sector he is evaluating. He has two children, Heather Griffin, who turns 27 this month and is a physician’s assistant at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital; and Matthew, 25, an RN in the ICU at St. Thomas. He’s just started anesthesiology school.
Hall lives in Lebanon and plans to continue to reside there.
Wright has announced that Hall’s previous responsibilities will be split into two positions.