The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce has written to the Hamilton County school board, asking it to conduct a national search for a new school superintendent.
Board members are expected to vote tonight on a contract buyout for Superintendent Jim Scales. They will also discuss an interim replacement. If the board approves the buyout as it stands now, Scales will step down June 30.
Tom Edd Wilson, the Chamber president and CEO, acknowledged pros and cons to both internal and external candidates, but that a "wide" search ensures a "rich talent pool."
"Our members depend on Hamilton County schools to produce graduates that will help their companies compete in the global marketplace," Wilson wrote in a letter to school board. "We view the selection of a superintendent as one of the most critical decisions impacting the future competitiveness of our business in the country."
Some board members are said to favor current Deputy Superintendent Rick Smith as a replacement for Scales. Smith worked for the county school system prior to its merger with the city schools and has more than 25 years on the local education scene. He was an applicant in 2006 when Scales was hired, but withdrew before a search committee named finalists.
The board meets today at 5 p.m.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Online: Read the entire letter.