By John Coffelt, staff writer and Josh Peterson, editor
Who will fill the vacant Manchester School Board seat left by the passing John Mayberry is still up in the air despite a recommendation from the school board earlier this week.
The school board voted unanimously at its Monday meeting to recommend Dr. Kenneth Kimble to the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen. But the aldermen shot that recommendation down in a work session Tuesday citing a desire to meet with the three people who had applied for the spot – Kimble, Lana Matthews Sain and Travis Hillis.
“We talked about it and everybody was saying they didn’t know who Mr. Kimble was,” said alderman Roxanne Patton. “I got a feeling that if it had come for a vote Tuesday it wouldn’t have gone through.
“He is a great man. I’ve known him for a long time,” added Patton.
“We all had some questions about this,” said Manchester alderman Cheryl Swan. “We are going to meet with all three candidates.”
If the Manchester Education Association has its way, the aldermen will buck the recommendation of the school board and select Sain.
Amy Whitsett, president of the 100-member strong Manchester Education Association, sent an email to the mayor and aldermen Friday morning expressing the association’s desire to see Sain appointed to Mayberry’s seat.
“I sent out an informal kind of survey or poll to my members,” explained Whitsett. “I gave members the opportunity to get ideas and suggestions from non-members as well as to who they felt would be the best candidate for the position. The teachers were overwhelmingly in favor of Lana Matthews Sain.
“They cited reasons that she has a child within the system. She has been at a lot of school functions, including school board meetings and has had interest before this became available.”
The email sent to aldermen by Whitsett claims that 22 of 27 respondents to her informal poll were in favor of Sain.
Whitsett, who has been president of the association for five years and a member since 2000, added that Kimble and Hillis also have good credentials.
“I know Mr. Hillis is a great businessman and I believe [has a child in the system]. I’m not as familiar with Mr. Kimble but I know he is a retired professor from UTSI and his wife I believe is a teacher.”
She added that the move to reach out to the aldermen shouldn’t be confused as anything personal against the school board.
“We have as teachers, parents, and taxpayers a vested interest,” said Whitsett, “It’s nothing personal against any school board member or Mr. Kimble but this is a place where we can show the mayor and aldermen that we have a vested interest. We want our voices to be heard as taxpayers and employees.”
Whitsett said the association did not make such a recommendation to the school board before Kimble was selected.
Kimble, who received the nomination from the city school board Monday, has an extensive background in education. He retired from the University of Tennessee Space Institute in 2006 where he taught for 37 years. He now lives in Manchester with his wife Marie.
According to a UTSI press release, Kimble helped found the institute’s computer lab, and headed it for 10 years.
Kimble is originally from Ohio and obtained degrees in math and physics from The Ohio State University.
“I have been the recipient of an exemplary public education,” Kimble said in a phone interview with the Times. “I look forward to returning that to students now.”
Whoever is eventually appointed will serve the remain-der of Mayberry’s term to Aug. 2014.
Mayberry, who served 30 years on the MCS board, passed away July 7.
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