Floyd County’s school system dominated news and breakfast table discussions this week with announcement of a new school superintendent and retirement of a legendary basketball coach.
The School Board unanimously approved current interim and assistant school superintendent John Wheeler as the new system boss with a salary of $112,000 a year in a three-year contract, a county-furnished vehicle and a requirement to move into a residence in the county within 18 months.
Wheeler replaces ousted superintendent Kevin Harris, whose tenure was marked with loud outbursts with teachers, coaches, parents and county officials as well as convincing the school board that he did not have to live in the county.
The school board, after firing Harris, appointed Wheeler, the assistant superintendent as interim chief, temporarily — and eventually completely — replacing the man who brought him into the Floyd school system.
Announcement of Wheeler’s appointment came a day before long-time and winning Lady Buffaloes varsity basketball coach Alan Cantrell’s retirement from a 37-year career that included five state championships.
Wheeler’s appointment signals what hopes will be a new direction for the school system after two combative superintendents. Harris had replaced Terry Arbogast, who ran into public battles with the county’s board of supervisors amid questions about his salary and actions.
Arbogast, however, did live in Floyd County and still does after his retirement.
Wheeler, in his role as interim superintendent, presented preliminary budget proposals to the supervisors earlier this month that was part of a six-year plan that outlined needs and expectations for the education system.
Supervisors welcomed his presentation as a show of better communication and transparency to the county regulating authority that approves the final budget for the school.
Teachers and principals applauded Wheeler’s appointment this week after the announcement.