Second MNPS Director Candidate Answers Questions At Public Forum

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jul 14, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The second of three finalists to be the next director of Metro Nashville Public Schools answered questions from community members at a public forum Tuesday night.

Dr. Mike Looney was a familiar face to many in the audience since he is currently the director of Williamson County Schools. He previously worked in school districts in Alabama for 15 years, where he was a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. He is also a former Marine. He said he felt his background in districts with high levels of poverty and diversity has prepared him to lead Metro Schools.

“If I get this job, I have a singular focus,” said Dr. Looney. “That is to improve student outcome for boys and girls who call this school district home.”

The public forum followed the same format as the event on Monday night for finalist Dr. Angela Huff. Dr. Looney answered questions from a panel of community leaders and members of the audience. Questions covered topics ranging from diversity in the district to how to hire and support teachers.

“We have to figure out how to take some things off their plates,” said Dr. Looney. “We have been piling it on.”

Dr. Looney answered questions for about an hour and a half in the auditorium at Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School. He spoke specifically about how his priorities would be to improve ACT scores, and in turn, increase college scholarships, so more students have an opportunity to attend college.

“The first thing I need to do is make sure we have a sense of urgency,” said Dr. Looney. “Every school day, every class counts, it matters.”

The third finalist for the job, Dr. Barry Shepherd, a retired superintendent from North Carolina, will be at a forum at Glencliff High School on Wednesday. It will run from 6-7:30 p.m.

After the public forums are complete, Metro School Board members will select their top candidate Thursday. They hope to vote on the selection at the board meeting scheduled for July 23.

Dr. Jesse Register retired as Director of Schools last month.