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ANDERSON — Several people expressed concerns Thursday about the Anderson Community Schools board of trustees’ decision to offer a three-year contract for interim Superintendent Joe Cronk to become the district’s permanent instructional leader.

Participants in the community-led meeting on the Zoom platform were concerned about how the board arrived at the decision without public discussion, that Cronk does not have significant classroom experience and that the position never was posted.

“The evaluation of the system is the achievement of the system. If it’s not going well, it needs to be reengineered,” said participant Perry Washington. “The measurement is an A, and if we haven’t been an A, then business as usual is not going to work.”

Board member Diane Airhart, who said she was not there to participate but to take notes to take back to the board, insisted the board has not yet made a decision. The board will conduct a hearing on the matter at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 and would possibly make a final decision in September.

“A decision has not been made. There have been conversations with Dr. Cronk,” she said.

Board member Holly Renz also was in the meeting.

“We do seek to be transparent, to be open,” she said.

Lindsay Brown, organizer of the meeting, said he was especially concerned about how the board arrived at the decision to offer Cronk the permanent position.

“That is a violation of the Open Door policy,” he said. “How does that transpire without the public seeing a vote from the board? They should have come to the community before any decision was made. If you got more people involved in it, it won’t look like something hidden.”

Participant Charles Jones agreed.

“There’s a disconnect with the school board here. The decisions that are being made are made behind closed doors,” he said. “I’m a little shocked that the board is making decisions like this.”

Several of the 25 participants, including Anikka King, said they were concerned about Cronk’s credentials, saying more attention is given to the hiring of an athletic coach than to a superintendent. Cronk, who also serves as ACS’s operations director overseeing transportation and food services, comes from an information technology background.

“The question is should we be offering a superintendent experience to someone who does not have classroom experience and only has managerial experience,” she said. “I’m a stickler for credentialing.”

The participants also were concerned Cronk was offered the permanent position without it ever having been posted and his credentials weighed against those of other candidates to determine who would be best for the job.

“By not posting, we are not given the opportunity to know who the best candidate is,” King said.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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