Rutherford County’s School Board unanimously selected Don Odom to replace Harry Gill Jr. as the next director of schools Monday.
The announcement was met with applause from nearly 50 residents who attended the meeting. Odom said he was honored the board would express confidence in him before turning his focus to local educators.
“We are a high achieving system, but I want to express a lot to the administrators, teachers that are there, and the central office staff. It’s not a one person accomplishment for us to be where we are, it’s working together,” he said.
Odom, who is currently assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, has worked in the Rutherford County education system for 43 years.
He was one of four candidates interviewed along with Paula Barnes, assistant superintendent for human resources and student services in Rutherford County, Donna Wright of Knox County, and Stan Curtis of Cheatham County.
“I’m excited and honored to be offered this opportunity,” he said.
School Board members said they were impressed with the quality of individuals who applied for the position.
“I think we should take it as a real compliment the people who wanted to be a part of our system,” School Board Member Tim Tackett said.
Donald Jernigan, another school board member, expressed the same sentiment saying, “We had a search that 17 or 18 people applied for, in my mind the top two candidates were right here with us and in my mind it made me proud.”
Odom will replace Harry Gill Jr. who informed the board he did not want his contract renewed in December 2011. Gill served as director of Rutherford County Schools for eight years.
After choosing a director of schools, the board was tasked with deciding on details of the contract it will offer Odom.
School Board Member Terry Hodge suggested offering a base salary of $145,000 per year with pay increases to match what certified staff receive after his first year.
Gill received a base salary of $128,115 but also received pay for certifications obtained.
Odom’s salary will be a flat rate, which Jernigan says is slightly less than what Gill is currently making.
Board members voted in favor of Hodge’s suggestion.
The board also agreed to offer two-year term limits to the contract, which is historically what the director of schools serves. By state law, the contract can allow for a term limit of up to four years.
Rutherford County Attorney Jeffrey Reed is expected to begin contract negotiations with Odom on Wednesday.
“We’re pleased about this outcome,” School Board Chairman Mark Byrnes said.