Bledsoe County school board members will pick from five local candidates for the school system's top slot, beginning with interviews set for Jan. 19.
The interviews will lead to a decision as soon as Jan. 23, according to officials.
Four of the five applicants come from within the school district and the fifth lives in Marion County, records show.
Current Superintendent Bill Kiper will leave his post at the end of the 2011-12 school year, and officials have said they'd like someone in place before his exit to work with him through the transition.
Applicants include former Pikeville Elementary School Principal James R. Ellis, Bledsoe County High School Vice Principal and Athletic Director Greg Harwood, Bledsoe High band director and music teacher Frank Hudson, South Pittsburg High School Principal Allen Pratt and Bledsoe County Vocational School Principal Jennifer Terry.
Board members passed a resolution in October that included a measure to appoint a selection committee made up of nonelected local residents, but the committee was dissolved in a 6-1 vote the next month in favor of leaving the selection process up to the school board.
Longtime board member Sue Everett argued in November that decisions should lie with the elected panel throughout the process.
Board Vice Chairman Bobby Angel was the lone supporter of the committee, but said he understood the other board members' reasoning.
This week, both said they are satisfied with the final five candidates.
"I'm very happy with the lineup we have chosen," Angel said. "I feel any one of these candidates would be a strong candidate for our local schools director."
"I would have loved to have seen a few more," Everett said, "but I think we've got a formidable group."
Since 2006, Bledsoe has had three directors of schools, including Ronny Colvard, who retired in 2006 and was replaced through appointment by former Assistant Director Clettis McDaniel.
McDaniel became embroiled in lawsuits, one filed against him by a teacher over her tenure and another filed by him against the school system over his contract. Both suits eventually were dismissed, newspaper archives show.
The board hired Kiper to replace McDaniel in 2008.
Five finalists for the Bledsoe school superintendent job will begin interviewing on Jan. 19.
• James R. Ellis was principal of Pikeville Elementary School from 2006-2010 and was a teacher and coach at the school before that. He also has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and was a self-employed dairy farmer between 1978 and 1985.
• Greg Harwood has been vice principal and athletic director at Bledsoe County High School since 2009. He also has worked for the West Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency, Gordon County, Ga., schools, Cartersville, Ga., City Schools and Chattanooga City Schools since 1986.
• Frank Hudson is Bledsoe County High School's band director and has taught high school and middle school instrumental music since 2000. He also taught music at schools in Paulding County in Georgia and in Marion, Knox and Loudon counties in Tennessee since 1988.
• Allen C. Pratt, principal at South Pittsburg High School since 2007, also has worked for Walker County, Ga., schools and at Oak Ridge High School. He had prior teaching stints at South Pittsburg and Whitwell high schools and at The Bright School in Chattanooga.
• Jennifer L. Terry is principal and vocational and technical education director for the Bledsoe County Vocational School and also has worked at the facility as a counselor, marketing instructor and GED counselor since 1992. The school serves grades ninth through 12th.
Source: Bledsoe County Board of Education