Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

TOP STORY >>Principal promoted to top job

Leader staff writer

Dr. Tony Thurman, principal of Cabot High School, is the new superintendent of Cabot Public Schools.

The Cabot School Board, in a 6-1 vote, selected Thurman, 38, from among 22 candidates as the next chief of schools during Tuesday night’s board meeting.

A round of applause, cheers and tears erupted after Thurman was named superintendent. Most of the teachers from CHS were present at the board meeting to offer support and congratulations. One said that although the teacher will miss him at the high school, he will do great things for the district.

“I want to thank Mr. (Jim) Dalton for bringing me to this district (from McGehee). He said I was a person for Cabot,” Thurman said upon being named the next superintendent of Cabot schools. “I guarantee I will do everything in my power to continue Cabot’s tradition (of excellence) and make us only bigger and better.”

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

“I will join with 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.

Thurman acknowledged Hipp’s opinion saying he will do everything possible to show Hipp he was the right choice.“I do not take this position lightly; I understand your position and will do everything in my power to show you that I was the right man for the job,” he told Hipp and the school board, adding, “I thank you for this opportunity.”

“I am very humble. I know it was a hard decision, and I respect that and also understand his (Hipp’s) decision,” Thurman told The Leader.

Thurman’s three-year contract begins July 1 when he takes administrative control of the 9,000 strong school district. He will make between $135,000 and $175,000. Because he is already in the Cabot district, Thurman will not receive the $5,000 for moving expenses and said he didn’t want or need it.

A total of 22 people, including five from within the Cabot district and 10 from within the state, applied for the position that became available after current superintendent Dr. Frank Holman announced his resignation in March.

Holman’s last day is June 30 when he leaves to take the superintendent position with the Lincoln Consolidated School District near Fayetteville where he has previously worked for 16 years.

Thurman took over as principal of CHS in 2003. He is a past Cabot middle school principal (2000-2003) and was an elementary school principal for McGehee schools from 1998-2000.

He spent five years teaching and coaching before going into administration. Although he said he is perfectly happy being the high school principal, he applied for the superintendent position as a way to stay in a district he loves and work with all the students in the district.

Thurman received his doctorate in education administration in 2003.

He and his wife Tara Leigh, an elementary school teacher, have two children, Ryane Elizabeth and Rhett Jackson. The list of applicants from within Cabot included: Thurman; Teresa Chance, director of curriculum; June Elliott, director of federal programs; Charlie Donham, director of transportation, and Robert Martin, director of career and technical education.

Applicants from other districts within Arkansas included: Wayne Fawcett of Bald Knob, Bruce Evans of Piggott, Dr. Randy Byrd of Brinkley, Joseph Cornelison of Horatio, James Simmons of Conway, Mickey Billingsley of Bauxite, Dr. Larry Bennett of Green Forest, Rhonda Bradford of Mayflower, Jim Loyd of Paris and Gary Masters of Marked Tree.

Out-of-state applicants were Pat Travis from Detroit, Texas; Jake Honea from West Columbia, Texas; Bob Biggs from Pleasant Hope, Mo.; James Dubus from Pittsburg, Texas; Michael Mitchell from Corsicana, Texas; Chris Carem from Gastonia, N.C.; and Richard Wilde from Castle Rock, Wash.