Michael Smith

Michael Smith

The Wilson County Schools board decided to search for its next director of schools on its own at its monthly meeting held virtually on Monday night.

Also, Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright said that district officials would review the county’s COVID-19 information on Wednesday and make an announcement on Thursday about which learning plan would be in place starting Jan. 19. District students have been on a remote learning plan the past three weeks of the school year. 

Board member Jamie Farough wrote in a social media post that “the current hope is for K-5 to restart five days and (grades) 6-12 to restart hybrid as planned (on Jan. 19).”

For the director’s search, board members Jon White and Bill Robinson had provided three options for a search process to the board to replace Dr. Donna Wright who will retire at the end of June.

“We’ve talked about researching the various options that school systems are using to fill director positions,” White said. The three options considered were utilizing the WCS board, staff and human resources department; hiring the Tennessee School Board Association; or hiring an outside organization to conduct the search.

At a workshop last week, board members Farough and Kimberly McGee said they preferred for the district to conduct its own search because of a “cost standpoint.”

White said that by having WCS conduct the search, the cost would be less than $1,000. If the TSBA had been hired, it could cost between $6,500 to $11,500 (for a 24-week search process). A private firm could cost as much as $30,000 to $50,000. The option of hiring TSBA was rejected by a 5-2 vote.

“I have no doubt this board could make a great decision and work through the process,” McGee said.

Murfreesboro City Schools paid TSBA $11,500 last summer to search for a new superintendent. That covered the costs of advertising for the job, accepting applications and holding community meetings for input.

Farough said that if the district conducted its own search, there’s a probability that more internal candidates could come forward.

“I’d like to try it ourselves before we spend money,” Farough said.

CFO hired

WCS has hired Michael Smith to be the district’s new Chief Financial Officer. He is expected to start with WCS in two weeks. Smith has worked with Wilson County and WCS in the past. He became the finance director of Murfreesboro City Schools last October.

Smith is a certified public accountant. He previously served as an investigator and auditor for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

Smith replaces long-time finance director Mickey Hall, who retired in December.

Vaccine update

Wright said that a local hospital has reached out to WCS to offer vaccines for teachers and others who come into contact with children. That includes bus drivers, food services personnel and board members.

She said that the district is counting the number of people who can get the vaccine at this time. There are 2,600 shots potentially available. The hospital did not give a timeline as to when the vaccines would take place, but Wright said, “I’m very confident they will expedite it.”

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