By Steve Hunley

Last week’s meeting and work session of the Knox County Board of Education confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt that the poison of politics is still the bread of Jim McIntyre’s reign.

Board member Tracie Sanger had a public meltdown during the work session and squalled like a spoiled child, petulant that the superintendent had not included expansion of Inskip Elementary School in the Capital Plan.  Sanger whined and cried (literally) and she and Karen Carson asked McIntyre to see what could be done.  Lo and behold, McIntyre comes tripping back with an entirely new Capital Plan.  That raises the perfectly valid question, did McIntyre present the best plan originally?  Apparently not.  The new plan came largely at the expense of Board member Patti Bounds’ Seventh District.  Folks whose children attend Powell High School have Jim McIntyre and Tracie Sanger to thank for the fact the cafeteria won’t be enlarged this year.  Sanger, who has been on the Board of Education for all of a year or so, has voted lockstep for anything McIntyre wants; Sanger voted to extend his contract and for his pay raise while Patti Bounds refused to vote for either.  I’m sure McIntyre would stoutly maintain that was just a coincidence and he attempted to hide behind the skirts of what Bounds referred to the “good ol’ girl network” on the Board – – – Karen Carson, Tracie Sanger, Gloria Deathridge, and Lynne Fugate.   Two of the four are leaving office at the end of August  of this year; Carson was decisively rejected by her constituents, while Sanger attempted the ol’ switcheroo with Grant Standefer.  Only problem was Jen Owen beat the stuffing out of Standefer.  McIntyre’s bid to hide behind the skirts of the good ol’ girl network was when he claimed he had been instructed by the Board to provide an alternative to his original Capital Plan.  Mike McMillan aptly pointed out that two of the nine Board members had asked him to do so; there was never a vote to ask for any such thing.

While I am happy for the Inskip folks and have never chided any elected official for looking out for his/her own district, McIntyre’s methods were divisive and utterly foolish at a time when the Board should be trying to present a united front.

McIntyre’s naked effort to accommodate one of his strongest supporters on the Board of Education at the expense of an opponent (not to mention the people and students Patti Bounds represents) is precisely what helped create the toxic atmosphere he decried when he concluded he could no longer effectively serve as superintendent of schools. The real reason he doesn’t want to be superintendent anymore is that come September, he knew he would no longer have a minimum of five rubber stamps needed to have complete and total control of the school system. Likewise McIntyre lamented the aspect of politics surrounding that same toxic atmosphere and his actions on behalf of Tracie Sanger speaks volumes.  There is not a single person in Knox County, or the State of Tennessee for that matter, who did more to create the toxic atmosphere surrounding his tenure as superintendent as did Jim McIntyre.  Clearly, he was picked too green and his head swelled from the size of a modest balloon to that of the Goodyear Blimp with his new found self-importance.

The interim superintendent, Buzz Thomas, must feel awkward right about now as there were more than a few Board members who left the meeting hurt and mad.  The Good Ol’ Girls’ had, with another 5 – 4 victory, stuffed yet another defeat down the throats of the McIntyre opponents.  It was unwarranted and utterly unnecessary.  Many of the Good Ol’ Girls have been singing a heavenly refrain of peace and goodwill, yodeling for the need to pull together as a Board. However, their actions do not match the tune they have been singing. It’s going to take more than a Buzz Thomas to put things right. The new interim superintendent might take a few minutes to reflect about treating all Board members equally rather than just finding the five that he needs. What we absolutely do not need is  McIntyre 2.0.