published Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Martin E. Ringstaff selected to head Cleveland City Schools

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Martin E. Ringstaff, of Bristol, Va., was picked Monday to become the next director of Cleveland City Schools.

Ringstaff and Damon R. Cathey, of Kingsport, Tenn., were finalists selected by the Cleveland Board of Education after a search that began in August.

The contract, which still must be offered and accepted by Ringstaff, includes an initial annual salary of $125,000.

Before the vote, school board Chairwoman Peggy Pesterfield said there might be a split vote “because of the quality of the two candidates. We believe we selected two very good candidates.”

Five board members voted for Ringstaff; while board members Richard Shaw and Murl Dirksen voted for Cathey.

“I wanted them both,” Shaw said after the vote.

“I will support Dr. Ringstaff 1,000 percent,” said Dirksen.

Board member Dawn Robinson said Ringstaff and Cathey “are two shining stars, and they will both be superintendents somewhere.”

Ringstaff and his family will be invited to the April 4 school board meeting to sign the contract. Only then does it become official.

It is a three-year contract with automatic renewal of one year unless the board decides to renegotiate another four-year contract in the meantime. The new director also will get a $600 monthly automobile allowance.

For each year after the first anniversary date of taking the job, the new schools director will receive the same percentage of raise adopted for the school system’s certified staff.

Health insurance and other benefits are included in the proposed contract.

The search began last year when current school Director Rick Denning announced his decision to retire at the end of the current school year after 16 years as director.

“It has been a long journey,” Pesterfield said.

The search included visits to the current communities of both men.

“We went there with a lot of difficult questions, and we got good answers,” board member Steve Morgan said.

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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