“First off, I'd like to read the memo I sent Mr. Hampton,” said Steve Walton, Chairman of the Macon County School Board. “Pursuant to Macon County Board of Education Policy 1.4, as noted below, I'm hereby calling a special-called meeting for the afternoon of Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the board office. Please make plans to attend the meeting. The subject of the agenda of this meeting shall be the director of schools. The policy noted says, “The board shall hold such meetings as necessary to transact the business of the board. Such meetings shall be called by the chairman whenever in his or her judgment the interest of the schools require it or at the request to do so by the majority of the board. Only business related to the call of the meeting and details related to agenda items shall be discussed or transacted by the board at a special meeting. I was contacted by a majority of the board, and, due to the Tennessee Open Meetings Law, also known as the Sunshine Law, this is the only way the board can meet and discuss issues as a group with the director of schools. We can meet with him individually but not as a group. As you know, the director of schools is the only direct employee of the elected school board members, and it is through we board members that the public has the ability to exercise control over the public school systems. Responsibilities of the board include: hiring the director, granting tenure to teachers, making policy, creating and abolishing positions, setting pay scales, and approving spending by the budget process. Now the director of schools has the responsibilities for developing the budget or spending plan to carry out the operations of the school system, filling positions created by the board-the hiring a firing of personnel, supervise and operate the day-to-day matters of the school system, carrying out board policy, recommending teachers for tenure, and keeping the board informed.
“With those statements, I'd like to start down with Mr. Wilmore. I think all of the board members have a few concerns they'd like to talk about, and we'll just go around the room discussing it.”
Each board member voiced a different concern, with the exception of Ronald Birdwell, who voiced no concern. Whether these concerns were related to budgetary, personnel, or publicity issues, everyone agreed that staving these concerns came back to better communication.
“I guess the couple of items I come up with was not just something specific, but, in a small town like this, people tend to talk. Whether it's true or not, there's a lot of gossip going on, and it comes back that some negative things were said about the board,” said Walton. “I think that, maybe, with a little better communication, we can cut that off a little bit. I would just like to see a little better communication. I think all of us have a cell phone. Most of them take text messages so, if there's something up, if there's been a school bus wreck, send us a text message, maybe. Something like that. I think the communication can be improved on.”
“Okay. I mean, I think I've called you over every episode that's ever happened right away. If I haven't, I apologize, but I thought I'd tried to contact you every time something's gone on or there was something you needed to know about,” replied Hampton.
“I think you've contacted me pretty well. I think that maybe some of the other board members felt like they hadn't been contacted quite as much. So maybe we can do a little better with that,” said Walton.
The board then turned discussion to the matter of searching for a new head football coach for Macon County High School.
“Mr. Goolsby has resigned as football coach, and, obviously, the principal is going to have to recommend somebody else, and Mr. Dan is going to have to employ somebody else,” said board member Jimmy Cook. “As I view this, and according to the law, that's their job, and we can't go out and find a football coach for them. The thing that bothers me is, when we get this next football coach at Macon County High, that means the seniors will have been under three different coaches. That's just not fair, that's not right. We need to get a competent coach, and we need to keep that coach. I know that we've had nothing to do with it, it's not you Mr. Dan and not us, but, it's been the policy here, it don't seem like the parents are ever satisfied with who is coaching. It's not fair to the students to play under three different coaches. You can't be a winner. We need to get a coach, and we need to keep that coach and give the boys a chance to become winners. The senior boys are upset, and I don't blame them.” “I can relate to that, Mr. Cook. I too played for three different coaches my last three years of high school. I know what they're going through. I know exactly how they feel.
“I do want to tell you this. I know the community doesn't know me very well, but I hope they do understand this. I hope that, through the process of what we've done financially and those kinds of things, that we're proving ourselves as far as running the school system, but I want to say this, and I'm saying this in all humility, you know, I'm not being cocky here. I really don't have to prove myself as a football person. I've got three state championship rings that will show you that I'm a football person, and I guarantee you we will have a quality football coach, and we're going to do this right. One of the things I told Ms. Meador from the get-go, that every person that comes in to interview better walk in here with a tape in their hand of the team they coached. I know they'll come in there with their best game, that's fine, but I see a lot of things when I see a tape. I see how kids are, I see how kids handle adversity, I see organization, I see how kids get in and out of a huddle, how they get on the field and off of the field, how the special teams are run, what kind of kicking game they have. Yes sir, I know a lot about this.”
“Well, Mr. Dan, I think you'll do a great job evaluating and employing someone because you've coached football so much yourself," replied Cook. "I don't worry about that. What I worry about is, we need to do a lot of public relations with it too. For the sake of our students, and that's why we're here, students, get a good coach and keep that coach.”
“I want to make a suggestion, and I don't know how we stand on this, Steve, legally. I know that a teaching contract comes first, I understand that. My gut feeling is, for us to get the quality of a person that we need to move to our community, that we may need to offer them more than a one-year contract. Now, it may be contingent on them renewing their teaching year after year because we could bring Vince Lombardi in here, but, I promise you, if he doesn't teach, Stephanie's not letting him stay,” said Hampton.
“If you bring Vince Lombardi in here, I'm leaving,” joked Wilmore.
In addition to an extended contract, there were also a few other ideas batted around in regards to hiring a new head football coach, such as giving the coaches the opportunity to bring on their own assistants and giving some people in the community the opportunity to meet with top picks among the applicants before a decision was made. Hampton said that he and MCHS Principal Stephanie Meador also plan to visit the schools from which the top applicants would be coming.
He hopes to have a coach hired by the first of June.
“You know, we're sitting here yapping, looking at what we think is negative, what are we going to finish with this year?” asked board member Ronald Birdwell at the end of the meeting.
“We should carry over somewhere between $1.1 and $1.3 million. 1.1 was the comptroller's conservative opinion. He said that was a very conservative estimate. He thought we could carry over as much as 1.3 million next year,” said Hampton.