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By Steve Hunley

Superintendent of Schools Jim McIntyre has praise heaped upon him by some of the local news media as well as the usual “good government” types for what he boasts are some of his many accomplishments, like his “Leadership Academy.”
Boiled down to its essence, the Leadership Academy is by all means McIntyre’s creation. And for someone likes to control every aspect of everything, it is perfection. He does all the picking – – – he selects which ambitious teacher is fit to attend the Leadership Academy and from those worthies he picks those who will become assistant principals, principals and administrators.
Those are also the same folks who show up before the Board of Education to sing hosannas whenever McIntyre is promoting some new expensive project or program. For instance, the balanced calendar. These are the same folks who skip down to the podium to tell the Board what a wonderful idea it is and they should implement it immediately.
Now, anyone who believes these people are objective is as a stupid as a stump.
Would anyone be surprised or impressed to hear Bill Haslam’s Chief of Staff brag about what a good job the governor is doing? Would anyone be surprised or impressed to hear Tim Burchett’s deputy praise the mayor to the heavens? Folks, these people are political appointees. What would you expect them to say? One person – – – Jim McIntyre – – – has the authority to do all the selecting and appointing, as well as the demoting and firing. Do you imagine for a second these appointees want to stay on McIntyre’s good side? Do you really believe they are objective? Do you believe they are immune to sucking up to their boss?
McIntyre has gotten away with trying to create the appearance of a groundswell of support from his own appointees because most of the local news media is either too lazy or too stupid to put two and two together. What group of parents came together and suddenly realized Knox County needs to operate on a balanced calendar? A balanced calendar is McIntyre-speak for year round school. Why can’t he just call it what it is?
McIntyre has his political appointees surveying folks through a series of community meetings that are about as spontaneous as a meeting of the old Politburo. The information is filtered, but relayed back to the Board as if it is a revelation and proof positive the people of Knox County support the position taken by McIntyre.
The cost of any program is the most fundamental aspect any responsible legislative body must consider. There are lots of things most everyone would like to do, but the price tag is sometimes prohibitive. That’s never really a problem for the school folks. Cost is never an object.
There is still no price tag for any of the year round school modules; all we know is the cost will be somewhere between $2 million and $20 million new tax dollars. You’d think cost would be one of the first things discussed with interested parents, but neither McIntyre or his minions want to talk about that, especially as they are trying to get their budget passed and already have an embarrassing shortfall.
Doug “High Tax” Harris squalled at the recent Board of Education workshop that Knox County government has a $50 million fund balance and if only the county would give the school system a one time appropriation of $5 million they could really do some great things. Well, “High Tax,” the reason your own fund balance is practically empty is because you and McIntyre have spent it all. The reason the county’s isn’t empty is because Jim McIntyre, thankfully, isn’t the mayor and you aren’t on the County Commission.
Tracy Sanger wondered just how the school system got to be in the shape it is in, financially speaking. McIntyre fired off a list of all the things the school system (he) has done. McIntyre overlooked quite a few things in ticking off his “accomplishments.” The Parthenon Study, which even McIntyre’s most ardent defenders found to be useless and a waste of money. Knox County schools now has a superintendent, a CEO and a COO. McIntyre hired all the teacher coaches with “one-time” money, creating another level of bureaucracy. All of these new bureaucrats are now folded into the annual budget. Those coaches aren’t even for new teachers, but veteran teachers. Why do veteran teachers need coaches? It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
McIntyre even has created a “Director of Innovation,” yet the most innovative thing I’ve seen about McIntyre and his crowd is how they keep trying to find new ways to pry more of our money loose to spend.
It is ridiculous that anyone would take seriously any opinion or statement made by a pack of political appointees who are picked and retained by the superintendent. What do you expect them to say?
If there are any sane and responsible people left on the Board of Education, the biggest part of the conversation about McIntyre’s year round school must be and will be cost. Unfortunately, as yet, cost hasn’t been a part of the dialogue. It never is with McIntyre.
That, Ms. Sanger, is how you got to where you are.