By Steve Hunley

Minion: someone obeys the orders of a powerful leader or boss


Superintendent James McIntyre is appointed by the Knox County Board of Education.  While the superintendent is tasked with making the daily decisions of running the school system, the Board has the responsibility for managing the superintendent.  Under the reign of Jim McIntyre, the Board, with the exception of Mike McMillan, has been servile, allowing McIntyre to do as he has pleased with but few exceptions.  The only notable exception I can recall when the Board refused to go along with one of McIntyre’s recommendations is when they balked at outsourcing the custodians.

When the Knoxville News Sentinel ran a series about the security failures in the school system, the incumbent Board members circled the wagons and hysterically defended McIntyre’s failures.

The McIntyre regime is one that does not tolerate dissent.  Mike McMillan has been persecuted for dissenting from the McIntyre agenda and Board member Indya Kincannon should blush with shame for having tried to cite McMillan on a nonexistent ethics violation.  Kincannon either is intellectually dishonest or merely stupid, despite her readiness to cite her own educational attainments at the drop of a hat.  Clearly, McMillan acted in compliance with state law, a fact never acknowledged by Kincannon or her colleagues.

The Board trying to enforce rules is a bad joke as they only attempt to enforce them selectively.  Board Chair Lynne Fugate seemed to forget the rules when Pam Trainor violated the civility portion of the Board’s own stated policy.  Fugate sat silently while Trainor droned on, never once thinking to invoke the rules.  Other Board members have violated the rules adopted by the Board, but again, they only seemed to be enforced to silence or punish those who do not approve of McIntyre’s imperial school system.

Fugate has used her position as Chair of the Board of Education to cut off speakers critical of McIntyre, yet those fawning over the superintendent are treated with scrupulous courtesy.

Doug Harris recently declared while always having been a conservative, he was now convinced we need to increase your taxes because we need to make a commitment to education in Knox County. Really? Presently, the school system spends some half a billion dollars of your tax money.  Just precisely what does he consider a commitment?

Yet again, McIntyre has submitted a budget which would require a tax increase, ostensibly to give teachers a pay raise.  During his six years as superintendent, McIntyre has done almost nothing for educators and his show of support for the teachers in an election year may well be a coincidence. Yeah, right. There is little likelihood that either the public or the County Commission will countenance a tax increase this year.  The school system had overspent this year and McIntyre was forced to pare back before submitting a new budget asking for more money.

The county’s own budget is tight and Mayor Tim Burchett has repeatedly said he is opposed to increasing taxes.

The Board of Education has no responsibility to provide the money for its own budget; they have the luxury of asking for more and more money without having to find the means to pay their own way.  Superintendent McIntyre disingenuously tries to distance himself from tax increases by murmuring he is merely asking for more money and the County Commission has the responsibility for finding the money.  Call it what it is, a request for a tax increase.

McIntyre and his minions on the Board have consistently enlarged the school system year after year.  McIntyre has added over 120 new employees to the payroll just in the last two years.

McIntyre has a strategy; if the Commission approves the tax increase to pay teachers more, he can crow about what he’s done for teachers.  If the Commission rejects the idea of increasing taxes, they become the bad guys and McIntyre can claim he did his best.

Jim McIntyre has a sorry record of trying to get more money from the Knox County Commission.  Despite usually being accompanied by either Indya Kincannon or Karen Carson, McIntyre has been singularly unsuccessful in getting more money out of the Commissioners.  Obviously the Commissioners have little regard for McIntyre’s administrative ability and even less respect for Kincannon and Carson, who are little more than shills for whatever the superintendent wants.

A monkey could likely run any department if the monkey kept getting more and more money.  What takes real ability is to operate an organization by doing more with less, just as most county departments and offices have had to do.

The County Commission should send McIntyre back to his drawing board and submit a budget living within his means.