Bradley board prepares to select new director

Lydia Brown, a Bradley County Virtual School student, meets her math teacher, Scott Humberd, for a tutoring session.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley County Board of Education plans to choose a new director of schools on Monday to replace Johnny McDaniel, who accepted a buyout of his contract from a divided school board in February.

Scott Humberd, the system's supervisor of attendance/technology, has been interim director of schools since mid-March.

The school board has been assisted in the director search process by consultant Wayne Qualls, doing business as Education and Management Services Inc. Qualls, a retired education professional, served as the state's commissioner of education under Gov. Ned McWherter in the 1990s.

In March, the board voted 5-0 to require the new director of schools' contract to have measurable goals, in accordance with a proposal made by board member Chris Turner.

The next director's contract "should have deliverables," Turner said.

McDaniel, who served in the position for eight years, cited "philosophical differences" with a majority of the school board members as his reason for accepting the buyout agreement.

photo Johnny McDaniel, head of the Bradley County School System, listens during a meeting Thursday at the Bradley County Board of Education.

Board Chairman Nicholas Lillios has refused to comment on the "differing opinions" mentioned in a joint statement he released with McDaniel on Feb. 9.

Such a discussion would not be "healthy or productive for the community," Lillios said at the time. "If it's the will of the board to accept the buyout agreement, it would be healthier going forward not to get into that sort of listing of differences."

A social media campaign and an online petition that received more than 1,400 signatures were launched to keep McDaniel in place. Supporters of the former director also packed a series of tense board meetings up through the Feb. 24 vote on McDaniel's buyout.

According to the terms of the buyout agreement, McDaniel will continue to receive an estimated monthly salary of $9,500, plus benefits, until the contact expires on June 30, 2016, or he finds comparable employment.

In other business, the board recently voted 7-0 to approve the 2015-16 budget for the county school system.

The $69.6 million budget includes continued funding for after-school programming and the retention of a district-level math coordinator, both of which are no longer supported through state and federal money, Humberd has said.

The extra funding needed for maintaining the extended teacher contracts associated with after-school remedial and enrichment programs and the math coordinator position amounts to $100,000.

Money for those positions will be reallocated from the proposed capital outlay budget for 2015-16, which exceeds $1 million.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at [email protected]