By David Carroll

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Hamilton County Schools Chief Financial Officer Tommy Kranz tells Channel 3 Eyewitness News that he is leaving his fulltime position with the district immediately, and will become CFO of ERMC, a security/janitorial/mechanical maintenance company based in Chattanooga.

Kranz joined Hamilton County Schools in May 2007, and says the impending change of superintendents played a role in his decision to leave.  "Emerson Russell approached me with a great opportunity to work for a wonderful, growing company.  There's some uncertainty ahead in the school district, and I want to do what is best for my family."  Superintendent Jim Scales' contract expires on June 30, 2012, and there has been pressure from School Board members for Dr. Scales to leave before that date.

Russell called Kranz "a straight shooter."  He continued, "We operate in 38 states.  We're one of this area's best kept secrets.  We're a $135 million company with 5,000 employees.  We're still growing, and Tommy Kranz is poised to be a big part of that growth."

Kranz said he and Russell began talking about the new position in December 2010, and he had hoped to join ERMC in January.  "But that's in the heart of the school district budget preparation season, and I didn't want to leave Dr. Scales and his staff in a bad position.  I have a lot of love for that office, and I am very involved with the budget process.  It wouldn't have been fair to them to leave in the middle of that." 

He added that the budget is still incomplete, and he plans to speak with Dr. Scales about working part-time, "with no benefits" to help complete the budget before it is presented to the County Commission in May. 

He said that although he has spent some time at ERMC in recent days, "I have done it on my vacation time, and have not been paid anything, stress the word anything at ERMC.  I will spend some vacation days in meetings at ERMC next week, and will go on their payroll Monday March 7."

In an emailed response, Supt. Scales told Eyewitness News, "Tommy will continue to work for HCDE until he tenders his resignation or serves notice of intent to leave."