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Clouse chosen as interim director

A familiar face is now in charge of the Unicoi County School System.
During a meeting on Thursday, March 12, the Unicoi County Board of Education unanimously voted to appoint Tommy Clouse as its interim director of schools.
All members of the board were present at the meeting.
Before this vote, the board unanimously approved the buyout of Denise Brown’s contract. In January, the board voted 3-3 on the renewal of the contract for Brown to continue as the director of schools. The tie vote was essentially a vote not to renew Brown’s contract. Brown could have remained director until June 30; however, in a letter sent to the board last month, she requested the board buy out the remainder of her contract, ending her 12-year tenure as director of schools.
The letter stated: “After serious consideration of what is in the best interest of our school system, I am requesting that you buy out the remainder of my contract. I wish you the very best as you move forward with selecting a director of schools for Unicoi County. Unicoi County has a great school system and I feel confident it will continue to be a great system.
“I feel honored to have worked in this system for the last 30 years. God bless each of you and may He lead each of you in the decision you have to make in the coming days.”
Following the vote to buy out her contract, Brown briefly addressed the board.
“I’d like to thank the board for the opportunity I’ve had in this great school system,” Brown said. “(We have) wonderful students, great educators, staff and the best leadership team in the state. You will do great things. I’ve been very blessed, and I’ll be praying for you and I wish you all nothing but Godspeed and I know you’ll be successful. Thank you so much for the opportunity.”
Following her comments, Brown exited the meeting.
As part of the vote on the buyout, the board agreed to allow Brown to preside over graduation at Unicoi County High School.
Board Chairwoman Cathy Thomas could not give an exact amount of Brown’s buyout following the meeting. She did say the amount would not exceed what Brown was owed through the remainder of her contract. Brown was slated to make $98,000 this year.
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In addition to approving Clouse’s appointment as the interim director of schools, the board also approved Clouse’s contract, which he will remain under until the next director is hired.
The contract includes one vacation day per month and usual county allowances for travel. These details are the same as in Clouse’s contract as the system’s supervisor of transportation and attendance.
Following the meeting, Clouse said he has worked in the school system for more than 36 years. He also said he previously served as an interim director from June 2000 through January 2001.
“I would like to thank the board for having the confidence in me to do this position,” Clouse also said. “I really appreciate that.”
He went on to say the coming months would be busy ones for the school system.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “… We have got to be preparing for testing. Very soon, the board and myself, have to prepare a budget because the budget this year has to go in earlier than usual.”
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The Board of Education is accepting applications for the next director of schools until March 27.
Following Thursday’s meeting, Thomas said two individuals have submitted applications for the position, but did not release their names. She did say one of the applications was submitted by an employee in the Unicoi County School System.
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In other business, the board unanimously approved a bid to purchase a special education bus for $89,531 and a bid to purchase a 78-passenger bus for $84,888.
The board also approved the purchase of 415 iPads and cases. Clouse said this purchase provides iPads to the remaining county students who do not have them.
“This gives an iPad to every child in the system from fourth grade to high school seniors,” he said.
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The board has planned a budget work session for Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m. at the Central Office.
The board will meet with the system’s advisory panel on Tuesday, March 24, at 6 p.m.
It will meet in a work session on April 6, at 5 p.m. Its next regularly scheduled meeting is set for April 9, at 6 p.m.