- [S23] Atchley Funeral Home, (http://www.atchleyfuneralhome.com/), 29 Jan 2005.
Betty Ruth Hickman Johnson obituary
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 21 Aug 2006.
Parton reflects on nearly two decades with Sevier schools
August 21, 2006
Jack Parton, Sevier County director of schools, is closing in on 20 years in his position. Each year he faces challenges from rising enrollment and capital needs. This year, with classes resuming Monday, he has had to help hire several new administrators while trying to handle rising fuel costs. In an interview with J.J. Kindred of The Mountain Press, Parton discusses the opening of another school year.
TMP: So what's new this year?
Parton: The big thing right now is our new faces. We have five new principals, nine new assistant principals, two or three new athletic directors, 88 new teachers. We're doing our Read 180 program in all four of the high schools that we are absolutely excited about. We began those programs four or five years ago in our K-8 schools and in our Title I schools. We have our transitional high school and try to make sure we catch the children that sometimes fall through the cracks during their junior year. We are having home visits and doing intense portfolios on these students to make sure each child has an opportunity to graduate. We also hired a full-time translator who has a vast background in Spanish culture. He will be a liaison for the school and the Hispanic community.
TMP: With all the building programs, did you anticipate all the growth going on in the county and all the new students coming in?
Parton: We anticipated the growth, yes. It's in excess of 450 students already. We are at our saturation points at many of our schools. As you're well aware, we've been asking for monies for our new building program. We are working closely with the County Commission on those projects. We hope to have money appropriated by October so we can start building the new school at Kellum Creek and finish moving along on the project at Pittman Center Elementary School, as well as building six additional classrooms at Boyds Creek Elementary School.
TMP: Are you pleased with this year's budget items? Did you get everything you wanted?
Parton: We never get everything we ask for. We get everything the County Commission feels like we need. We have a very good relationship with county commissioners and our county mayor, and we work very closely together.
TMP: How have rising fuel costs affected the school system?
Parton: I think we added an additional $300,000 to $400,000 in fuel costs for the school year. We are monitoring it very, very closely. At one time last year, we shut down all field trips for probably a month right after Hurricane Katrina because the prices were outrageous. We will monitor those and watch the prices and if need be, we will take precautionary steps. Not just there, but also our natural gas as well.
TMP: Why does Sevier County start later than most other school systems in the area?
Parton: Tourism is our No. 1 industry. A lot of our students and teachers work in this industry. A major part of our funds come from tourism. We think it's important we help the work force because they're the ones helping get the money generated so that we can have the school system we have. Another reason - and a lot of people don't think about it - is that it's a lot cooler in the last week of May and the last two weeks of June than in the first two or three weeks of August. They have much higher utility costs. It costs more to open school the first week of August than on the 21st of August. We surveyed our teachers and asked what starting date they want, and it's overwhelming.
TMP: As you begin your 19th year, does the job ever get old for you? Do you continue to enjoy it?
Parton: I will say this - there are times in the last 18 years that I've questioned my sanity and asked why am I superintendent of schools. I am refreshed and ready to go. I enjoy coming to work every day. You want to know what the secret of being a good leader is? If you surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and get out of their way, they can do the job. I don't micromanage. I have very competent people and have the utmost faith in them.
Occupation: Director of Sevier County schools
Length of service: 19 years
Education: Bachelor's, master's, East Tennessee State University; Ed.S., University of Tennessee; Ed.D., California Coast University
Family: Wife of 28 years, Tammi Burnett Parton; daughters Leigh Anne and Katie
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 20 Aug 2007.
Parton marks 20th year as school leader
Director of Sevier County Schools Jack Parton is serving in his 20th year in his position.
He continues to face challenges annually such as rising enrollment and reduced state funding that caused a cut of some teacher positions and stopped pay raises. He discussed the beginning of another school year with J.J. Kindred of The Mountain Press.
TMP: What's new this year?
Parton: We're doing a lot of construction work again. We've broken ground on the new Catlettsburg Elementary School, and we're beginning Phase II of the new Pittman Center Elementary School. We're finishing eight additional classrooms at Boyds Creek Elementary, and we're also building a gymnasium expansion at Pigeon Forge High School, which we're very excited about. Preregistration for new students climbed to 455, including those who were not in the system last year. All my principals are coming back. We've got 16 or 18 new school buses, and we are changing our communication system where we're going to put radios on 45 to 60 buses out in the rural areas. That way if there was a problem, we would have direct radio communication.
TMP: After 20 years on the job, do you still have the same motivation and excitement level?
Parton: Yes I do. There have been days that I wonder why I'm in this position, and I'm sure there's days a lot of parents wonder why I'm in this position (laughs). I have the same fire and passion. I will say this - I feel that I have done a lot of things that I had no idea you had to do in order to be a superintendent. In 1988, I was 33 years old and very naive, and I was fortunate enough to get elected. I hope that I've grown and matured to become a better superintendent than I was then.
TMP: Did you picture yourself being in this position for this long?
Parton: No sir, I really didn't. I'll be honest with you - the superintendent that was in this office before I was, we're still good friends. It wasn't that he was doing a bad job, I just wanted to run for the position.
TMP: What are some of the challenges of getting good teachers?
Parton: It is tough. We've never had a teacher shortage in Sevier County, because so many people wanted to move here and live here. People come on vacation and fill out applications. We've always had a high stack of applications and still do, but our problem is like everywhere else across the nation. It's really tough to attract people to go into education and stay in education.
TMP: Will you have new security measures, in light of all the bomb threats last year?
Parton: I was frustrated. I can assure you if this happens again we will catch those people and prosecute them to the fullest. The first one that does it, we will make a statement because we will not tolerate it. We will be very hard-nosed on that issue.
TMP: What has been the best and worst part of the job?
Parton: That's easy. The worst part is busing issues. Any time you have 66 children confined in a small space rolling down the road, there's potential for conflict. With the bus driver looking one way and the children right behind them, that's a problem. That's my biggest fear every day - from 6 to 8 in the morning and from 3 to 5 in the afternoon, I am in constant consternation that those buses get home every day. The one thing that I really enjoy doing is helping people. I feel that in my position I have that opportunity, and that's been gratifying to me and to see where the school system is today, compared to where it was in 1988. We've made great strides academically, and in the community as far as school awareness, athletics and fine arts. I'm not saying I did it, but I've had the help of a great staff and County Commission that's been right there with me.
TMP: What will the next 20 years be like?
Parton: This is my 32nd year in government and school work. A lot of local people remember that I was a police officer. That's what I wanted to be when I got out of college. My original background was in law enforcement. I'm Sevier County bred and I love it. I plan on never leaving. I can't tell you about the next 20 years, but I can tell you what I'll be doing the next five to 10 years. As long as the Sevier County Board of Education wants me, I plan on being here for a while.
©The Mountain Press 2007
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 15 Jun 2010.
School board renews Jack Parton’s contract
By ELLEN BROWN
SEVIERVILLE — The Sevier County Board of Education voted Monday to renew Director of Schools Jack Parton’s contract for another year.
State law mandates that the contracts of any Tennessee director of schools be reviewed on an annual basis.
The contract states it was last amended on June 13, 2005. Compensation for the 2005-2006 school year for the position was $113,964 with a minimum annual 2.5 percent increase.
The contract also states that the board agrees to furnish the director with an automobile, and that the director shall reimburse the board to cover personal use of the vehicle. The director shall be entitled to 25 days of vacation each year and may carry over up to 25 additional unused vacation days, plus five paid holidays with a maximum of 48 days to be accumulated.
Parton was elected superintendent of Sevier County Schools in September 1988. In 2000, he was appointed by the Sevier County Board of Education as director of schools. Prior to serving as superintendent, Parton served as a teacher and assistant principal in the Sevier County School System and as the mayor of Gatlinburg.
He oversees more than 14,000 students and more than 2,000 professional, paraprofessional and auxiliary staff.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 14 Apr 2011.
'What a wonderful day' — Ground broken for Northview Academy
With a panoramic view of the Smokies in the backdrop, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters, right, talks about the effort numerous people put in to make the academy a reality as Jack Parton listens. (Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press)
Superintendent Jack Parton instructs the third shift of shovelers on what to do during the Northview Academy ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday.
By RACHEL OSBORN
KODAK — With school board members, county commissioners, contractors, community members and even school children in attendance, groundbreaking for Northview Academy went off without a hitch Wednesday.
“What a wonderful day in the life of the county and community,” says Debra Cline, director of curriculum and instruction. “It’s exciting times. It’s great.”
The school, set to open in August 2013, overlooks Highway 66, the mountains and surrounding businesses and houses. “What a view,” says Cline. “It’s fabulous.”
Although some labor has already occurred, site work and preparation begins on Monday, says Tim Geegan, vice president of construction management at Alliance Corp. “In a couple of weeks we will start construction,” he says. “The first building will be building one, the administration building.”
The school campus will consist of seven different buildings tied together by one long corridor, explains Marvin Harmon, director of maintenance facilities. “It will be built in sections,” he says.
The plan is to start at the front of the job site and work toward the back.
“We’ll start with footings, then masonry on each building,” says Geegan. “They’re sequenced to run simultaneously. Then we’ll have to wait for the wood trusses. They have to be fabricated and delivered.”
Following construction of the roof structure, they will begin enclosing the buildings. “The administration building will begin to take shape in the first couple months,” says Geegan. “Then we’ll move back to the other buildings.”
The classroom areas, gym and auditorium will be constructed during later phases. Lastly, the football and baseball fields will be completed.
The project is scheduled to take 20 months to complete. “That gives us completion in December 2012,” says Geegan.
But, uncooperative weather and delays could interfere with the schedule. “February of 2013 is the target completion date,” says Harmon. “That will give us time to get the bugs out before we put kids in. Everyone’s excited about it.”
t bad weather or delays was the last thing on anyone’s mind on Wednesday.
“This is an exciting day for us,” says Jack Parton, director of schools. “It’s a historic day in the Sevier County school system. There is a lot of excitement in the community.”
Northviews completion will help overcrowding at SCHS and Seymour High Parton hopes. “Children in this community (the Kodak area) have been driving to SCHS for way too long,” says Parton.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters also recognizes the new school’s importance. “It’s a need in this community,” he says. “Look at the census and see. We went from 70,000 to 90,000 people in the last few years. It’s an educational opportunity for kids in this area.”
Eventually, the school will be a comprehensive junior and senior academy, explains Parton. “By 2016, it will be grades 7 through 12,” he says.
But, only seventh, eighth and ninth grades will attend the first year. “Then, every year after, we’ll add a grade and classrooms,” says Parton. “It helps control cost and growth.”
The project, currently estimated to cost $20 million is under-budget. Parton sees nothing but the bright future ahead. “We’ll have a junior and senior academy that is state of the art,” he says.