Leader Blues

Monday, May 21, 2007

TOP STORY >>From principal to super

IN SHORT: New Cabot superintendent stays focused before he takes on new job.

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Dr. Tony Thurman has a little more than a month before his title changes from principal of Cabot High School to superintendent of Cabot Public Schools and until then, he’s soaking up all he can from Dr. Frank Holman, Cabot’s outgoing superintendent.

The Cabot school board selected Thurman Tuesday night in a 6-1 vote as the next chief of Cabot schools, filling the void left when Holman announced his resignation back in March.

“At this point, I’m focused on working with Dr. Holman on the transition and doing great things for the students in our district,” Thurman said.

His appointment as superintendent means the district must now find a new principal for CHS, the position Thurman has held for the past four years.

The search for the next high school principal has already started with the district advertising the position both in-district and across the state.

“We have a very short time line for applications since we would like to fill this position as quickly as possible. The transition at the high school will be as important as the transition at the district level,” the new chief of schools said.

Thurman will be involved in the selection of his replacement at the high school.
“We have great things happening in our school and I want to ensure that the next individual understands the long-term goals and relates well to the students, parents and staff,” he said.

The majority of his teachers, people he calls friends and family and not coworkers, were present at the school board meeting to show their support.

And although they will miss him now at the high school, they felt he was the right choice for the district and will do great things to advance Cabot schools.

Thurman already has goals in mind to continue the tradition of educational excellence that has been Cabot’s earmark.

“We have a great community. We continue to grow and while we are becoming a large school district in terms of size, I want to make sure that we never lose that sense of community and family within the district,” he said.

“The ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act has changed the way that we do business in education,” he said.

“This focus on accountability is welcome but we can never forget that we must also focus on the heart of each child. We work in partnership with the home to guide our students in making positive decisions each day,” Thurman added.

There are also facility issues that must be addressed in Cabot’s near future.
“Growth brings major challenges. Cabot is a residential community with little to no industrial base to support the tax structure,” he said.

“We must work together as a school and community to address these issues and continue to provide the resources and facilities that we expect,” Thurman explained, adding, “Dr. Holman has us focused on the future; this will not change.”

As the next chief of schools, Thurman will make between $135,000 and $175,000 each of the three years of his initial contract that begins July 1 when he takes administrative control of the 9,000-strong district.

A $5,000 moving allowance was also to be given to the new superintendent, but because Thurman is already planted in the district, he told the board he did not need it.

“The school board has been very good to me. I do not want or need the moving allowance since I plan on remaining in Cabot for a long time,” he said. “We are happy in our present location and I agree with the board that the $5,000 could go to better use in the district since I am already established,” Thurman said.

Thurman, as principal of CHS, graduated his last class of Cabot seniors Friday at Alltel Arena.

He has many more graduations in his future as superintendent of Cabot schools.

School board president David Hipp was the lone opposed vote in Tuesday’s decision.
Although he voted against the rest of the board, Hipp said his decision would not affect his ability to work with Thurman in the future.

“I will join the board to support Dr. Thurman and the work he will be tasked to do. We will have a unified effort to keep Cabot schools on the cutting edge of excellence and providing an educational opportunity for our children in the Cabot School District,” Hipp said.