By Sally Absher


Incoming Superintendent Asks for Lower Salary

Putting his words from the May 4 Board meeting into action, Knox County Schools’ incoming interim superintendent Buzz Thomas asked that his salary  be reduced from $195,000 to $180,000. Board Chairman Doug Harris notified fellow school board members of the request last Monday.

At the May 4 Board meeting, Board member Mike McMillan expressed concern that the proposed $195,000 salary plus $3,350 monthly in benefits was too high for an interim position. Thomas proceeded to engage in a private conversation, mid-meeting, with McMillan to discuss the salary question, for which he was called out by Board member Lynn Fugate and reprimanded by Board  member Karen Carson.

He told the Board, “I am honored to be asked to serve, and I will gladly do that work whether the pay is $195,000 or $185,000…The amount of money I make is not the point. So if $185,000 or $183,000 or $180,000 is what you need to be able to do to bring the board together and feel good about this, and feel like you’re not going to get criticism from your constituents, then that is what I would like to happen.”

Although several Board members thanked Thomas for his offer, no one offered a motion to lower the salary, and the contract was unanimously approved. But Thomas continued to struggle with the conversation for several days. He told several Board members that he felt asking for a lower salary was the “right thing to do.”


KCS loses another student in fatal car crash

Wednesday a single vehicle crash on Lyons Bend Road in west Knoxville claimed the life of 16-year-old West High School sophomore Roberts “Brown” Smith. Smith was returning home after an AP exam when his vehicle went off the road and slammed into a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Smith was described as a “wonderful, beloved student… a very popular boy who had lots of friends.” He was a member of the school’s soccer team. His older brother, Boyette Smith, is the starting goalkeeper on the team, which was scheduled to play Bearden High last Wednesday. The soccer game was postponed to 7 p.m. Thursday. A candlelight vigil followed the game.

Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to Brown’s mother, Tracy Smith, and brothers Boone and Boyette. The family lost husband and father Kenny to brain cancer just last summer.


South Doyle Middle Schools Trails to Open Tuesday, May 17th

After years of hard work and collaboration between Legacy Parks Foundation, local neighborhoods in South Knoxville, Knox County Schools, city and county government, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and other public and private entities, the South Doyle Middle School Trails will open this week. These trails provide a new, safe walking and biking route to South Doyle Middle School for students and other community members, and connect the school into the Knoxville Urban Wilderness trail system.

There will be a brief program to commemorate the official opening of the trails on Tuesday, May 17th at 10:30 a.m. at 3700 Lancaster Drive in South Knoxville


Sacred Heart School Celebrates Cathedral Construction Project

In an innovative move, during the past year the Sacred Heart Cathedral School community brought the construction of the new Cathedral into the classroom, and often, brought the classroom to the construction site.

Through the school “construction project,” students learned about the geology of East Tennessee, the equipment used in construction projects, the many different people who work in construction, city planning and zoning laws, the math and science used in engineering, and ultimately the role of the Cathedral and the lasting impact it will have on their faith community.

Mr. Daniel Breen, SHCS Principal, remarked that “this has really been a STEM project – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and the students worked through real world problems and learned to collaborate.” As a culmination to their research, each grade level created a student-produced video of their findings and conclusions to be shared with the full SHCS community. An all-school assembly was held on May 11, 2016, led by 8th Grade student leaders, where representatives from each grade spoke about their research, answered questions about their project, and shared their video.


Reminder –

KCS Summer Transfer Window Now Open

The KCS summer transfer window will conclude Wednesday, July 1, 2016 at 4 p.m. The summer transfer window provides an opportunity for parents and/or legal guardians to request transfers for their students who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Students who are new to KCS, including Kindergarten students;
  • Students who have had a change in family circumstances such as custody/guardianship , or a change of address, since February 16, 2016;
  • Students seeking to transfer to a magnet program where space is available.

More information on criteria and the application process can be found at