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Greendale picks John Tharp as superintendent

Offer includes $155,000 salary, but few 'extras'

Aug. 22, 2012

Greendale - John Tharp will be the new schools superintendent, filling the post vacated when William Hughes retired.

Tharp's contract, including a $155,000 annual salary, was unanimously approved by the School Board on Monday; he will start Aug. 29. Hughes' salary was $168,000.

Tharp comes to Greendale from Tennessee, where he was assistant superintendent of middle and high schools for Williamson County. Williamson County's school district has a student population of 30,000. Greendale's student population is less than one-tenth that, at 2,600. Tharp has 13 years of teaching experience and also was a high school principal in Greenville, N.C.

"His experience with high-performing districts is very valuable," said Erin Green, interim superintendent and director of business for the Greendale School District. "Williamson County is the highest-performing district in Tennessee. His work with districts where there is diversity present is important because Greendale is growing in diversity as well."

His two-year contract includes up to $5,000 for moving expenses and the same medical insurance plans all other staff have access to. He will pay premiums ranging from 10 percent to 18 percent depending on the plan he selects.

"I want to be as transparent with the community as possible," said Joe Crapitto, president of the School Board. "His contract is not filled with the compensation that's in other contracts. There are no automatic salary increases, no post-employment and no longevity bonuses."

Tharp has a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a masters in curriculum and instruction from UNC.

He has authored a book titled "Breaking the Cycle of Failed School Reform."

Melanie Kuzmanovic, a member of the School Board, said that Tharp's technical and personal skills are what landed him the position, adding: "The bottom line is that he fit the attributes the school district was looking for, and he was the best match. They wanted an educator, somebody with knowledge. He's had principal and district office experience. What's important in this role is that you've sat in all the seats. They wanted somebody visible and somebody approachable."

Tharp beat Susan Borden of Germantown for the slot. Borden has been the district administrator in the Germantown School District since 2010. The two finalists were chosen from six candidates at a closed School Board meeting late in July.

Kuzmanovic added: "We thought they both were outstanding candidates. John has some really good experience. He managed a very large school district and did some tremendous work there. John also has some first-hand experience with school reform. He's got a lot of innovative ideas and is a sought-after educator. His daughter is going to be coming into the school district. He's got some personal qualities that we're looking for."

The Greendale School Board used the consulting agency Hazard Young and Attea to help them recruit and select candidates for the position. The firm used input from various stakeholders to help winnow the field. Surveys, community forums and meet-and-greets were involved in the decision to hire Tharp. Using the agency cost the School Board roughly $22,000.

HYA narrowed a field of 60 applicants to three finalists. One of the candidates chose to stay with his district before the Greendale School Board had completed its decision-making process.

Kuzmanovic said, "What I would like to remind the public is that Bill Hughes had 16 years of experience as our superintendent. While John is new to our district, he's going to grow into something that is exactly what our district needs. I think our district needs to be patient and give him some time to grow."

Tharp will start on Aug. 29 during the staff kickoff day.

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