Looney moves one step closer to Tennessee job

Published 11:35 am Friday, August 7, 2009

Superintendent Mike Looney moved one step closer to possibly leaving Butler County to lead the Williamson County School District in Franklin, Tenn.

Five finalists for the position of Director of Schools were interviewed by the Williamson County Board of Education this week and three were invited back for secondary interviews. Looney was one of them.

“Obviously, there were some things that the board and I saw eye-to-eye on and the interview went really well,” said Looney.

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Looney scored a 44 on matrix used by board members to rank candidates for the job, according to Carol Birdsong, spokesperson for Williamson County Schools.

By comparison two fellow finalists, Dennis Dearden, of Partnership for Excellence in Arizona, scored a 28, while Dr. Barry Carroll, Superintendent of Limestone County Schools, scored a 23.

Board members asked candidates 25 questions about a variety of topics, including special education, racial diversity on the school district, and school arts programs.

In responses, Looney said he valued academics, athletics and arts equally as part of the “whole child,” and told board members they should be proud of the school district’s accomplishments, but not satisfied, according to The Williamson Herald.

“But being the best in Tennessee isn’t good enough,” Looney was reported as saying by The Herald. “I don’t want you to be satisfied with the status quo.”

Looney also discussed how Butler County combated proration in 2008-09 by cutting energy bills in order to avoid eliminating programs, The Herald reported.

Two other finalists, James Wilson, former superintendent of Fulton County Schools in Georgia, and Dr. David Heath, current interim Director of Schools in Williamson County, will not be considered for the job.

Board members have scheduled a second interview with Looney for Aug. 18. Looney said he was told he would also meet members of the community and tour the schools.