The Hamilton County school board has voted 5 to 3 to change its policy on hiring a new superintendent in a key step toward permanently hiring acting Superintendent Rick Smith.
In late May, the board voted to buy out the contract of Superintendent Jim Scales. A $300,000 package that included pay, benefits and attorney's fees was offered to Scales, who in turn left the job a year earlier than his contract stipulated.
Tonight, board members Rhonda Thurman, Everett Fairchild, David Testerman, Mike Evatt and Joe Galloway voted to change the policy. George Ricks, Jeffrey Wilson and Linda Mosley voted no. Chip Baker was not present.
Board policy requires for a set timeline and public input before hiring a superintendent. It also says an interim candidate should not be considered for the permanent job unless the board specifically allows that person to do so. Policy also calls for the superintendent to hold a doctoral degree, but it's not a requirement.
The policy passed tonight allows the board to simply named a superintendent so long as it gives the public 15 days notice and erases a preference for unanimous consent by the board before selecting a superintendent.
Board members who didn't vote for the policy change wanted a national, or just a statewide search, for a new superintendent. Backers say Smith is a suitable local candidate who after more than 25 years with the school system, deserves a shot at the top job.