Two more finalists for Oak Ridge Schools superintendent have withdrawn, and the search will have to be re-opened, an official said Wednesday.
One candidate, Roger Collins, toured Oak Ridge this past Friday. The other, Dan Lawson, was scheduled to be here Thursday, but that visit has been canceled.
On Wednesday, Oak Ridge Board of Education Chair Keys Fillauer said Collins and Lawson have decided they want to stay where they are. Collins has been superintendent of Nelson County Public Schools in Lovingston, Va., for 10 years. Lawson, superintendent of Tullahoma City Schools in Tullahoma, Tenn., has been with his district 16 years.
Fillauer said both candidates have been impressed with Oak Ridge Schools, but they “wanted to stay where they put their roots down.”
Fillauer said school officials won’t have to start over in the search to find a replacement for Tom Bailey, who is retiring at the end of the year, but they will have to consider what to do next. The next step will be determined after the school board talks to executive search firm Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
There could be a special meeting before the school board’s regular meeting on Jan. 7 to determine what to do next, Fillauer said.
He said the board won’t have to start from scratch. Hired in June, Ray and Associates has compiled a list of applicants and will probably go through those again, he said.
School board members have emphasized that they want to find the right candidate, and they have suggested they don’t want to rush into hiring a new superintendent to have someone on the job by Jan. 1.
Fillauer said the board knew it would be difficult to find someone in the middle of the school year.
“We’re disappointed because we thought either Dr. Collins or Dr. Lawson would have been a good fit for this city,” he said.
Their communities have been very pleased with Collins and Lawson, Fillauer said.
“Both of those communities would have hated for them to leave,” he said.
But, he added, “We will move on.”
The board interviewed four of five finalists in November. One finalist, Raymond Bandlow, withdrew before the interviews, citing salary issues. Another candidate, Kenneth Sorrick, was interviewed but later withdrew, citing salary issues and his family’s desire to live in a larger metropolitan area.
Fillauer said the board hadn’t planned to call Neyland Clark, the fifth finalist, to have him return to Oak Ridge. Clark is now superintendent of South Harrison Community Schools in Corydon, Ind.
The Oak Ridge Schools superintendent position has a negotiable salary range of $140,000 to $150,000.