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BOE OK's interim director, COE expansion

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Monday night’s Wilson County Board of Education meeting ended with an interim director in place and a green light for preliminary work to begin on the expansion project at Carroll-Oakland Elementary School.

BOE members could be heard saying amongst themselves that it was a good meeting as they left.

Mary Ann Sparks, deputy director of talent management, was named interim director of schools by a unanimous vote of the board. Wayne McNeese of Zone 1 nominated Sparks, a 28-year veteran of the school system. No other names were submitted for consideration.

Following Sparks appointment, Zone 5 board member Larry Tomlinson made a motion that the search for a new director of schools begin immediately and that it be conducted by the board, with no outside consultants hired.

“Now that we have an interim director in place, I would like to make a motion to the board that we start our search for a full-time director as soon as possible. Hopefully, we can start that tomorrow,” Tomlinson said. “I would also like to say that I would like for our board to conduct this search on our own; that we don’t engage anyone, that we do it on ourselves.”

He went on to say that he felt there were some names from the search conducted last year when former director Dr. Tim Setterlund was hired, and that he would like each board member to come up with a list of names of individuals who may interested.

Board Chair Don Weathers of Zone 3 provided each board member with a copy of the board’s policy regarding the selection of a new director. Per board policy, Sparks is ineligible to become the permanent director of schools having been appointed as the interim.

The board also approved unanimously to use the leftover funds from the construction of Rutland and West Elementary schools, as well as West Wilson Middle School, to start the preliminary work on the addition to Carroll-Oakland Elementary School.

Tomlinson expressed his desire for the board to go with Option B, which places the new parking lot beside the building, versus Option A that places it behind the building.

However, to accomplish that, an adjacent parcel of land would need to be purchased, but Tomlinson said, “I’ve been told that the county commission has some contingency money or some funds available they were be willing to spend to purchase that seven, eight or nine acres of whatever that is.”

He asked about suspending the rules to allow members of the Wilson County Commission in the audience to address that. However, Weathers said he thought including in the motion the contingency that they would go with Plan B provided the Wilson County Commission purchases the land could save time.

Weathers asked McNeese if he would amend his motion to include this, to which he said he would “if I can say something. … My personal recommendation would be (Option) A because we have parking back there for athletic events. “

Jason Morris, architect with Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects of Mt. Juliet, told the board more parking can be added in the back.

“The plans at this point are still fluid. There’s nothing set in stone,” he said.

“If you can put me some land in the back, I’ll go with Plan B,” McNeese said.

The motion passed unanimously.

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be contacted at

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Carroll-Oakland Elementary School, Mary Ann Sparks, Wilson County Board of Education
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