BOE director contract to fade away

Published 8:16 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

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In a seemingly unusual move, the Claiborne School Board voted neither to review nor extend the director of schools’ contract. As it now stands, Dr. Joseph Miller will have until June 30 to clean out his desk. Miller’s contractual agreement with the school system expires on that date.

The roll call netted four ‘yay’ votes and three abstentions. Board members Justin Cosby, Terry Keck, Shane Bunch and Neta Munsey voted in favor of the move. Chairman Wade Breeding, vice-chair Shannon England and board member Linda Fultz abstained from voting on the matter.

Prior to the vote, Breeding opened the floor for discussion. Miller asked to speak. He asked Cosby and Munsey, who made the initial motion and second, to explain on just what the vote was based.

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Munsey declined to comment, other than to say it had been previously discussed during the last committee meeting.

During his one year at the helm of the school system, Miller seemed to bring a fresh approach to county education. His philosophy of ‘personal and professional improvement by one percent, each day’ seemed to light a fire under teachers and administration, alike.

Under his leadership, test scores made phenomenal improvements. The latest TNReady scores, alone, outshone those of other school districts across the state.

According to Meagan England, high school student science scores, alone, were in the top 10 for growth.

“There are only 20 percent of districts in the state that can claim this, and we were at the top of that list of districts taking the same assessments as us. So, that’s pretty huge. I was looking at other districts that surround us, and they were much lower. Where we had nine out of 10, they were looking more at only three or four areas. The other 80 percent only had one or two areas,” said England, during a committee meeting held a few months earlier.

Results from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessments System (TVAAS) showed highest marks earned by county students. In just one year, scores rose from a dismal Level 1 to a Level 5 – the highest score that can be achieved within district level composites.

During the school board meeting, Miller detailed the latest ACT scores.

“When you combine the composite, it went from 18.3 to 18.4. Even though that tenth (of a percentage point) seems like a small increase, there’s a lot of work that goes into moving our students into this type of growth. By the way, the state average is set at 19.6. The state goal is 21.0,” said Miller.

When the meeting adjourned, Cosby was asked to elaborate on the vote not to review nor extend Miller’s contract.

“In my opinion, he’s (Miller) not taking the school system in the right direction,” said Cosby.

Munsey could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

Miller declined to make a comment, at this time.

The Claiborne Progress is closely following this story, and will have updates as they become available.