BRISTOL, Tenn. — Gary Lilly, superintendent of Bristol Tennessee City Schools, will miss the people who he’s come to know and love and made the school system what it is.

On Thursday, Lilly, who has been superintendent of BTCS since 2009, announced that he planned to leave the school district to take up a position as superintendant of Collierville Schools. Though he’s been superintendent of schools for 10 years, Lilly has been with the district for 25 years in several positions, including teacher at Anderson Elementary School, principal of Avoca Elementary School, and various administrative roles.

Lilly said he did not originally plan on leaving the district but was approached by a recruiter for the position. He found that, despite only forming in 2014, Collierville Schools have a number of similarities, including a supportive community.

“When you talk to folks in Collierville, they’re proud of the school system, and they should be, they are very high achievers,” Lilly said.

He said they also have a one-to-one technology initiative like Bristol, Tennessee, and are also prioritizing post-secondary opportunities and work-based learning.

He said the opportunity presented itself at the right time.

“At this point after serving as director of schools for 10 years, I was ready for a new challenge,” Lilly said.

In 2018 Lilly’s contract as superintendent was extended, and his base salary set at $122,147.

John Aitken, the retiring superintendent of Collierville Schools, has a base salary of $188,700 per year, according to his contract, which was signed in 2018. The Collierville Board of Education has not publicly discussed or released what Lilly’s salary would be in the position.

Nelson Pyle, vice chairman of the Bristol Tennessee Board of Education, said his emotions about Lilly’s departure are mixed, but he heaped praise on Lilly for his performance as superintendent over his 10 years in the position.

“He’s an outstanding individual, he’s got a lot of compassion, he’s consistent, he listens to what our concerns are, he responds very well, he’s been a good leader for us, he’s brought a lot of things to our district that have been needed for many, many years and has accomplished a lot of things that I came on the school board because of,” Pyle said.

Pyle said Lilly’s accomplishments include strategic planning, implementing individualized instruction, helping develop a strong relationship with city council, listening to people in the community, improving academic excellence and infrastructure improvements.

Pyle said the board would discuss how they will proceed in finding a new superintendent at its upcoming work session on June 13, and the board may appoint an interim superintendent or begin the searching process at their general business meeting on June 17.

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