It’s official: John Carver will be the new Director of Tullahoma City Schools.

At the special-called meeting of the Tullahoma School Board on Wednesday night, the board voted unanimously to offer a contact to Carver, who was named as the board’s finalist for the director of schools position last month.

Carver was offered and signed a contract with the school system beginning Nov. 1 following the conclusion of the meeting Wednesday night.

Carver will replace Dan Lawson, who is leaving his post as director of schools to take a teaching position at Lee University in Cleveland. Lawson has been at the helm of the local school district for more than 20 years.


Search process

Carver’s selection came following a lengthy search process coordinated by educational consultant and former Tennessee Education Commissioner Wayne Qualls. Qualls was selected by the board to conduct a candidate search in April following the announced departure Lawson.

Over the span of four and a half months, Qualls said he identified more than 30 people he felt may be the best fit for the board. During Wednesday’s meeting, Qualls told the board he personally interviewed 17 of 33 potential candidates, including Carver, in order to see if they could possibly be the next superintendent in Tullahoma.

After extensive research, reference checks and interview hours, Qualls then brought three candidates to the board for one-on-one interviews, he announced at the meeting.

After each board member interviewed the final three candidates individually, Qualls said the board members met with him to let him know which candidate they felt was the best fit for the district. Carver was the person each board member felt would best serve the students of Tullahoma, Qualls said.

Following each board member’s preference indication, Qualls then conducted a “post-interview” with Carver, in order to leave “no stone unturned” in vetting the candidate, which he said found nothing untoward.


The contract

The details of Carver’s contract stipulate his first term as director of schools will begin Thursday, Nov. 1 and continue through June 30, 2021 – a two-year, eight-month contract. After this time, the board can choose either to extend or terminate Carver’s contract, dependent upon performance evaluations or other special circumstances.

Carver will receive a base salary of $158,000 per year plus any bonuses “provided by the state,” per his contract. Any increases to his salary will be “proportional ... to any other certified personnel.” His pay may not be reduced, unless state law demands it, according to the contract.

He will also receive all “fringe benefits,” including health insurance and retirement.

As part of his employment with Tullahoma City Schools, Carver must provide proof that he is certified to act as a director of schools in the state of Tennessee, per state law. Carver must also live within the city limits of Tullahoma, per the terms of his contract.

In order for Carver to establish that Tullahoma residence, his contract states the board will provide “reasonable moving expenses,” as it relates to relocating from Columbia to Tullahoma, though the contract does not stipulate a specific amount for those moving expenses.   If a moving company is necessary, Carver is obligated to use whatever company the board recommends, per the contact.

As the head of the school system, Carver will be expected to present the board with an annual “system of goals and objectives,” which will lay out the year’s goals, priorities and objectives. This annual list may be used as part of his annual evaluation, according to his contract.

Erin McCullough may be reached at

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