Dayton offers top school system post to principal Mike Latham

Dayton offers top school system post to principal Mike Latham

June 8th, 2011 by Tom Davis in News

Mike Latham, principal of Dayton City School.

DAYTON, Tenn. - Debate over procedure this week turned into a split decision on hiring a new superintendent for Dayton City Schools.

School board members voted 3-2 on Monday to offer the position to Mike Latham, who has served for 11 years as principal of the 800-student Dayton City School. If he accepts the job, which would pay $82,000 per year, he would replace longtime Superintendent Richard Fisher, who announced his retirement in April.

Latham said he plans to discuss the offer with his wife over the next few days.

"There's some work to do in the coming months," he said. "I want to work with faculty and staff to see what we can do."

Latham served two years as assistant principal at Dayton City School before moving to the principal's position. He has 21 years of experience in education, teaching in Rhea, Sevier and Roane counties before moving to Dayton City.

After the meeting, board Chairman Bob Vincent pledged his help and support for Latham, but said he voted against his hiring in part because of personnel issues at the school.

Board members had discussed the proper procedure to follow to hire a superintendent and heard a proposal from Randall Bennett with the Tennessee School Boards Association to allow his organization to assist with a search.

After 30 minutes of debate Monday, board member Billy Graham made the motion to hire Latham. He and board members Gary Louallen and Steve Randolph voted "yes," and Vincent and Vice Mayor Bobby Doss voted "no."

Before the vote, teacher Susan Tallent presented a statement signed by about 40 faculty and staff members encouraging the board to hire Latham.

Meeting later as the Dayton City Council, the panel voted to lease a portion of the city's Fourth Avenue office complex to the Rhea County Department of Education for use as an alternative school site for the coming two years.

Rhea County Superintendent Jerry Levengood asked for the agreement, saying he wanted to have a facility in place before the year began. He said the alternative school's present facility next to the Rhea County High School would be torn down as the first step in preparing a site for a proposed new high school, a project he said he hopes will begin in August.

But he told council members that, while he had discussed the idea with individual members of the county school board, neither they nor the County Commission had agreed to that plan.

The Rhea County school board is scheduled to meet Thursday and the county commission on June 21.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at tsdavis@volstate.net.