published Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Cleveland, Tennessee school board prepares to interview director candidates

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    Rick Denning has been director of Cleveland City Schools since 1994.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- May 27 will be his last working day as director of Cleveland City Schools, Dr. Rick Denning told the City School Board on Monday.

Also Monday, board members reviewed their list of questions for interviews next week for the five candidates being considered as the next city schools director.

Denning has been director for 17 years. Accumulated leave days fill out the remainder of his tenure as director.

Each day next week one of the candidates will be hosted by the school system, including a full day of meeting constituent groups from business, local government, teachers and administrators. Each day ends with dinner and an interview with the board that could last two to three hours.

Each candidate will get identical questions. Board members will take turns asking questions developed by the Tennessee School Boards Association based on the city board's criteria. Board members can ask their own follow-up questions based on candidates' answers.

"Obviously the questions need to be standardized," board member Murl Dirksen said.

"We will be sending the questions to all of the candidates. All of them have access to the newspapers, and all they have to do is get on the website and if anyone has answered questions they can pick up on those," said Chairman Peggy Pesterfield.

Otherwise, she said, anyone interviewed late in the week could have an advantage.

The candidates and their current positions include Damon Cathey, assistant superintendent for Kingsport City Schools; David M. Roper, assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University; Nancy Zambito, superintendent of Jackson-Madison County Schools, Jackson, Tenn.; Martin Ringstaff, director of personnel and support systems, Bristol, Va., Public Schools; and Clifford Davis Jr., principal South-Doyle High School, Knox County.

Contact Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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