New Knox County Schools superintendent announces plans for school system

Knox County Schools’ new superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk announced some of his plans for the school system Tuesday.
Knox County Schools’ new superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk announced some of his plans for the school system Tuesday.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 12:01 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 12:22 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Schools’ new superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk announced some of his plans for the school system Tuesday. Dr. Rysewyk, who previously worked for the school system as assistant superintendent, officially started in his new role Saturday.

Dr. Rysewyk has said in the past that he plans to prioritize students in the classroom. Specifically, he announced four of his key priorities going forward:

  • Excellence in foundational skills, particularly early literacy and middle-school math;
  • Providing great educators in every school;
  • Career empowerment and preparation;
  • Success for every student.

WVLT News spoke to Dr. Rysewyk, who said he wants to help prepare students for more than just crossing the stage at graduation.

“We really need to look at where we play in the community. Our role in the community is really to prepare students for their life after high school and have career exposures, not just make sure they cross the stage and graduate, but when they do they’re prepared,” he said.

Dr. Rysewyk also announced specifics for the county school system going forward, including his plan to realign the Central Office and foster connections with the Knox County Schools community.

“Knox County is blessed with incredible educators and talented students,” Dr. Rysewyk said. “By setting a clear vision of our goals and strategies, I believe our community can work together to achieve great things.”

Dr. Rysewyk also said he’s looking to build relationships with potential partners.

“I think that’s one thing we want to do- look at where can we partner, who in the community already has children in those ages and how do we continue to bridge and make those relationships stronger,” he said.

Dr. Rysewyk’s plan will include creating five regional teams made up of both elementary and secondary school-focused members, the new superintendent said. Each team will also include members with specific focuses. As part of the realignment plan, school district officials said they also plan to create five assistant superintendent positions aimed at the following:

  • The Assistant Superintendent of Academics will include oversight of Learning and Literacy, Academic Supports, College and Career Readiness and Regions 1 through 4;
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Business and Talent will oversee HR and the Chief Financial Officer;
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Student Success will oversee functions including English Language Learning, Health Services, School Culture, Special Education and Region 5;
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Operations will oversee functions including Security, Transportation, and Maintenance; and
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Strategy will oversee Communications; Research, Evaluation and Assessment (REA); and ESSER programming.

The assistant superintendent regions will be based on geography and feeder patterns, KCS officials said.

“As one of the largest districts in Tennessee, a one-size-fits-all approach will not provide the level of responsiveness that our school communities deserve,” said Dr. Rysewyk. “I believe that regional teams will help us foster community engagement and ownership in the educational process, and will shift the educational focus away from the Central Office back to individual schools, where the most important work happens.”

WVLT News reached out to KCS officials, who said that more information about the new positions will be released in the near future.

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