Knox County Schools superintendent finalists begin interview process

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Schools is moving closer to selecting its next superintendent as the two finalists went through the interview process on Monday. The search committee decided last week to recommend Bob Thomas and Dale Lynch as the top candidates.

More: Learn more about the two finalists

Thomas has served Knox County Schools as an assistant superintendent since 1990 while Lynch is the current superintendent of Hamblen County Schools.

At Monday’s interviews, the board asked each finalist the same 10 questions and could then ask follow up questions. Thomas went first. The school board asked how he would cut the budget.

“The last thing you want to do is cut or reduce anything that has an impact on student learning.  Teaching and learning, that has to be the first priority,” said Thomas.

Thomas explained how he would communicate with the mayor, commission, community and the board even if what he has to say isn’t always favorable to everyone.

“You have to help people to understand what the problem is. People, once they understand if the trust factor is there, I think that better allows you to communicate information even if it is not good information,” said Thomas.

Lynch told the board he supports Pre-K programs.

“Early readers make leaders,” said Lynch.  He said it is important to “have pre-kindergarten and other opportunities even before children come to school to make sure that some of our most challenged and at risk families have opportunities.”

The board also asked if he would be able to handle such a large school district since he is currently at the smaller Hamblen County district.

“I think I have the leadership skills to lead this district. I think my style will have to change, that’s why you empower people and make sure the people around you are the very best and you make sure you invest and you build trust in people,” said Lynch.

A community meet and greet with the two finalists is scheduled Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the main auditorium at West High School, 3300 Sutherland Avenue. According to school officials the vote for superintendent will take place March 20 at 3:00 pm.

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