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Jay Greeson
The news that Rick Smith has asked for a buyout comes as little surprise.

The fallout continues from the Ooltewah High School rape allegations in December, and it should not stop at the top. The deck at Ooltewah High School needs to be cleared, starting with the basketball coaching staff, and it should include the athletic director and the principal.

As for finding Smith's replacement, though, our city deserves better. To the school board, know this: This hire will define you as public servants and everyone will be watching how you handle yourselves at the starting point and the finish line, and we will remember come next election.

In truth, we all want the best, and the best can be expensive, right?

Well, here's an idea: Take half of the $100,000 discretionary funds allotted each of the county commissioners in a private slush fund and put it toward the next superintendent's salary.

This accomplishes a couple of things:

First, it cuts by half the vote-buying ability that most of the county commissioners call a 'civic' service in their districts. Second, the move would announce their seriousness and commitment to having a top-flight school system rather than a way to reward friends and family of important people with connections in Hamilton County. What better service can each county commissioner offer than helping to attract the best education leader possible?

If the school system already has between $150,000-$200,000 budgeted for the next superintendent, then an extra $450,000 would make that the hottest job opening in the educational world. Pay the superintendent around $400,000 and let the rest go where he or she sees fit.

Heck, the Internet says we're the best city everywhere ever, right? Why not hire the best superintendent money can buy?

More school board stuff

Thursday night's 6-3 vote to start buyout negotiations with Smith was held with Rhonda Thurman, David Testerman and Greg Martin voting against it.

If those nays were in an effort to try to figure out a way to separate from Smith without negotiating a monster buyout, then OK.

If those were votes in support of the current, broken regime, well, that's hard to fathom and could be seen as the ultimate example of the "good ol' boy" network allegations against our school system.

Yes, we're all flummoxed at the thought of paying a lump sum near a half million bucks, but contracts are contracts, and at some point the horror of what happened to the Ooltewah freshman needs to become the bricks in the foundation of a better educational system.

That said, it was troubling to hear Testerman lose his cool and try to blame the big, bad "media" for overblowing the events.

Say what? Student safety at school-sponsored events is a big deal, especially when life-threatening actions lead to life-changing events.

Hey, David, the "media" scapegoat is an easy target. But if you want to blame the media for something, well, here's your dart, and you can throw it at me first.

Blame us for not making an even bigger deal of the system's malfeasance before now. Blame us for not screaming even more loudly about lagging test scores or the decaying infrastructure.

But you come across as either callous or simply silly to think the media is "overblowing" a case of this magnitude.

CARTA milestone

Let me be the next in line to congratulate Norma Sanders.

Sanders, as this paper's Steve Johnson told us this week, is the eighth member of the One Million Mile club for CARTA bus drivers.

Miss Norma did her 1 million-mile tour after 31 years of service.

One million miles. Wow, that's driving around the Earth 40 times. She has driven a CARTA bus to the moon and back again almost two times.

And she did it without a chargeable accident.

Sadly, none of CARTA's nine passengers were available for comment.

Race cards

One of the folks sounding off about the race-related fallout from the Academy Awards nominations was the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has made a career out of stirring racial controversy. (Please note, I said stirring, not working to solve, racial controversy.)

The Rev. Al preys on controversy and, sadly, with no controversy, this reverend has no prayer.

Not surprisingly, Sharpton is sternly opposed to Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. Sharpton even said this week that if Trump wins, "I'll move to Africa."

Now, Rev. Al, all things considered, is that to encourage or discourage support of Trump as a candidate?

Until next week.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com. His "Right to the Point" column runs on A2 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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