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Schools begin transition to new director

Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Timothy Setterlund will have a keen ear on what’s going on at Monday’s Wilson County Board of Education meeting as the board says farewell to Mike Davis as director of schools.

Setterlund was hired earlier this month to replace Davis as director of schools. He signed a three-year contract and will be paid $165,000 annually as Wilson County director of schools.  

Sutterland plans to listen in on the meeting via conference call from his Memphis home. His contract begins July 1, which is also the proposed date for the following board meeting, as well as when budget talks are expected to begin.

“I have made arrangements to call into the meeting Monday, but this is Mike Davis’ last board meeting,” Setterlund said.

Setterlund is chief transition officer as Memphis City schools merge with Shelby County schools. He was in the running for the position with Donna Wright, assistant superintendent of Williamson County schools and a former assistant superintendent for Knox County schools.

“I think the citizens of Wilson County will find that I’m pro-children,” Setterlund said Friday. “The decisions I will be making will be in the best interests of the children and how we can make them grow. I believe in the strength of the teachers in being the backbone of what we do every day. I believe in responsibility and accountability to the public. We work for them, also.

“I think the people who have worked with me over the years would describe me as a highly motivated, energetic person who isn’t afraid to take a stand when needed. Great leaders have to be flexible and open-minded and listen to other people’s opinion to arrive at the best possible solution.”

As Setterlund was selected from a pool of about 35 applicants for the position, he said he was selective in applying for the job.

“I was very selective in looking at districts I would consider moving to, and Wilson County was high on my list,” he said. “I think it’s an outstanding group of employees who are dedicated to the work they are doing. I think they have a very dedicated community. They have a county commission, which has been a strong ally to the school system. The school board is probably one of the most dedicated that I’ve ever seen.”

As with positives in Wilson County, Setterlund said he also sees challenges ahead.

“I think like other school systems across the nation, putting together a budget that will best meet the needs of our students and be fiscally responsible to our citizens will be a challenge,” he said. “Another area, like all districts across the state, will be meeting those ever-increasing performance standards. I want to ensure the students have good music and art programs, electives and vocational offerings.”

In his current role of chief transition officer in seeing through the merger between Memphis City and Shelby County schools, Setterlund said July 1 marks another milestone in his career. That’s the official merger date.

“I am looking forward to being in Wilson County,” he said. “The past 18 months have been very rewarding. There are probably about 18 months of challenges ahead with the merger. I wish them all the best. It’s become a very divisive, political issue.”

He also said he’s looking forward to building a good working relationship with the board.

“It’s looking outstanding,” Setterlund said. “I think we will have a great relationship. I’m anxious to get there and meet those board members in greater length than I have before and do some goal setting.”

Setterlund said he and his wife found a home in Lebanon “not far from work.” The couple has three adult children.

“I cannot express how thankful I am to have the opportunity to be a part of Wilson County,” he said. “My wife and I are ready to relocate and become a part of the community.”

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