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The Tennessean

With Dickson schools director job opening, county looks at revamping structure

By Katie Nixon, Nashville Tennessean,


Several top spots are open in Middle Tennessee school districts after a succession of resignations.

The job shuffle kicked off with Sumner County Schools Director Del Phillips III retiring in June. Shortly after, Robertson County Schools Director Chris Causey resigned. Causey has since landed a position with Sumner County Schools as Supervisor of High School and K-12 Accountability.

And changes in school-district leadership continued nearby when Dickson County Schools Director Danny Weeks resigned Sept. 7. Then, Robertson County School Board members unanimously voted to pursue contract negotiations with Weeks.

Now, the Dickson County Board of Education has initiated the search for a new district director to replace Weeks. There is no clear successor and Dickson County Board of Education members said they would like to hire a director and an assistant director.

If the assistant role is advertised, that makes three top job openings - school district directors in Sumner and Dickson counties, and an assistant director in Dickson schools.

Hiring deadline looms

Dickson County Commissioner Danny Williams advised the board to focus on the assistant job first.

“Dickson County School systems is the largest employer of the county, and I’m kind of shocked that we don’t have an assistant director,” Williams said. “My advice would be to the school board as they look for a new director, I wish they would look for an assistant.”

Board Chair Kirk Vandivort asked Weeks about his thoughts on the job at a recent meeting. He stressed urgency in filling the position because Weeks' contract ends Nov. 28.

“Excluding the rest of this month, we’re about 61 days from Dr. Weeks’ last day,” Vandivort said. “Dr. Weeks, let me ask you about a position that is not on this list. Our system does not have an assistant director.”

Weeks said the position would make the district comparable with other similarly sized organizations.

"Larger school systems do (have assistant directors) and, just as a point of reference, we are the 22nd-largest school district in the state," Weeks said. "So, 22 out of 145 districts. That puts us near the top.”

Nearby school districts Cheatham and Robertson County Schools have assistant-director-of-schools positions.

Dickson County School District supports about 8,000 students, more than Cheatham County School District’s roughly 5,700 and less than Robertson County School District’s roughly 14,300 students, according to Niche, a school-data company.

Bedford County, a Middle Tennessee school district of comparable size to Dickson, lists an assistant superintendent position on its school website, as well.

“Many times, an assistant director of schools fills the roll (of director) if the director has to be out for an extended period of time and, in many cases, there are several assistant directors of schools,” Weeks said. “It’s a natural training ground for future leaders, but it’s not the only method of doing that.”

The district has several education directors who oversee elementary, secondary and special education programs and report to the director of schools.

Vandivort said the board could employ the Tennessee School Board Association, as it has done in the past, or hire another recruitment firm to assist with the candidate search or pursue an interim.

“If we go that route that we’ve done before, through that process, it could be anywhere between three to six months, which is longer than 60 days,” Vandivort said. “So that’s an issue, an interim, and the number two in my mind is what search process we’re going to utilize and how we go from there."

Discussions concerning the search for a new director of schools will be held in future board meetings.

Dickson County School Board’s next regular session will be 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Central Office, at 817 N Charlotte St. in Dickson.

Katie Nixon can be reached at

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