Washington County, Tenn. Director of Schools announces retirement

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Thursday night, Washington County, Tennessee Director of Schools Dr. Bill Flanary, announced he will be retiring after 39 years with the district.

“39 years feels like enough. I’ve done so many jobs in Washington County schools, held a lot of positions and it just feels like the right time,” Flanary said.

Dr. Flanary moved to the Tri-Cities region from Nashville in 1982 when he first took a job with the school district teaching agriculture at David Crockett High School.

“Teaching agriculture is the best job in all of public education and teaching Ag at Crockett is just about the best place to teach agriculture,” said Flanary. ” I still consider myself a teacher.”

Flanary has served in various roles from teaching to positions at central office to being the Assistant Director of Schools before the BOE approved a contact with him in November of 2018.

Doctor Flanary says in all of his years of experience, nothing could prepare him for what’s happened in the past year.

“I must’ve been absent the day they talked about pandemics in ‘superintendent school.’ There’s no textbook, there’s no plan for this,” said Flanary. “We’re closing in on a full year of students at home. So, we’ve got to address those skills gaps. We know we’ve got a problem with mathematics, something of a lesser problem with English Language.”

As he ends his time with the system hoping to break ground on the Jonesborough K-8 School, Flanary says he’s proud of the way everyone in the system was able to adjust to the ever-changing pandemic.

Flanary admits- his replacement will face major challenges.

“We need a really robust summer school and I want to be a part of the planning for that as my time draws to a close. We want to put a lot of resources in the hands of teachers as we finish out the current school year,” he said. “The individual that comes after me will probably have a three-year job closing the skills gap that we not only have in Washington county but all across this state… maybe even the nation.”

However, there is one thing Flanary won’t miss about the job- snow days.

“I hate the things. I despise getting up at 3 in the morning diving up, driving down to Fall Branch or South-Central looking for snow. I will not miss that.”

The announcement was no surprise to the Board of Education as News Channel 11 learned they found out at a retreat earlier this year and has already involved the Tennessee School Board Association to conduct the search.

“They are helping us receive all the applicants. We meet first of February to discuss the new applicants and hopefully to hire someone probably by the end of the month,” said Board Chair Jason Day.

As the pandemic continues with struggles in the school system- Day says he’s not worried about finding a new director.

“The superintendent is much like us as school board members… learning as we go as far as Covid. I think this is a good system. I think we’ve got a good board. I think our area has lots to offer,” Day said. “I would like to have somebody that works well with the county commission, our funding bodies, someone that’s a real advocate for everyone in the system- rather it be teachers, bus drivers, [Instructional Assistants], principals, whoever it is.”

On February 4, the board will receive the final list of candidates from the TSBA. Dr. Flanary’s contract ends on June 30, 2021, his replacement will take over on July 1.

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