Hamilton County schools superintendent search could cost $60,000

Five firms are interested in helping the Hamilton County Board of Education find its next superintendent - and each comes with a price tag.

"I just want people to understand that while we're doing this, it's going to cost the system some money," said school board member George Ricks.

He added that many of the firms' proposals seem similar.

"I was kind of pleased," he said. "I didn't see much difference."

Ricks said he wants the community to be aware that the school system may end up paying $60,000 before finding its next leader.

The proposed cost of each firm ranged from $60,000 to about $30,000, with a couple thousand dollars of extra expenses.

School board chairman Jonathan Welch told the board to consider each firm's experience handling superintendent searches for large metropolitan school systems like Hamilton County. He asked the board to be prepared to vote during next week's meeting on the three firms they want to interview for the job.

"Personality will matter," Welch said.

The firms that responded to the district's request for proposals are: Coleman Lew and Associates Inc.; Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; McPherson & Jacobson LLC; Ray and Associates Inc.; and the Tennessee School Boards Association.

The school board previously used Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates when it selected former Superintendent Jim Scales.

Former Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith stepped down from the position in March, following two tumultuous months after the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman, allegedly by three of his basketball teammates.

Smith was criticized in the wake of the rape for his handling of the situation and lack of communication.

Five school board members voted in April to name Kirk Kelly the district's interim superintendent.

Also during Thursday night's meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Lee McDade told the board that the district and the Hamilton County Education Association have come to an agreement on a contract for teachers.

The school system ended its formal contract with teachers in 2014. Only a handful of school systems in Tennessee still operate under a contract that teachers and administrators agree upon via collective bargaining, like the one being proposed.

The board is expected to vote on the new contract next week.

Contact staff writer Kendi A. Rainwater at 423-757-6592 or kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com. Follow on Twitter @kendi_and.