The Rutherford County Board of Education on May 27 approved a contract for James “Jimmy” Sullivan as the county’s new school director, replacing Bill Spurlock.

The contract will begin July 1, according to RCS. During a specially-called morning meeting May 27, the board approved, by a vote of 7-0, a four-year contract for Sullivan, paying him $215,000 a year with a built-in $5,000 step increase. The contract will run through June 30, 2026.

“I look forward to the work ahead,” Sullivan said in a statement issued after the board’s unanimous approval of the contract. “We are not a broken district. We are district that has a lot of success and a very strong foundation. We have some cracks that we need to address to move forward, but I appreciate the confidence, and look forward to working with each of you individually and as a group.”

The board voted 5-2 on May 23 to approve a resolution to negotiate a contract with Sullivan, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum since 2019.

In April of this year, the RCS announced it was beginning a nationwide search to replace Spurlock, who had served as director of schools since 2018.

RCS’ announcement specified candidate criteria for the new director to include the ability to build relationships with the board, students, employees, and the community; the ability to adapt to change; a successful history as a principal, administrator, and educator; and the ability to develop long range goals for the district.

The K-12 district has 50 schools, and nearly 50,000 students, according to RCS.

Before being assistant superintendent of curriculum, Sullivan was the principal for the Rocky Fork Middle School in Smyrna when it opened in 2017, according to a district announcement of the contract.

Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree and teaching license from Tennessee State University and holds a Master of Arts in education administration from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, the announcement said.