Friday, August 10, 2007

More from C-J on new commish search timeline

This from Antoinette Konz at the Courier-Journal:
Education chief sought by fall
State board aims for mid-November
By mid-November, Kentucky should have a new education commissioner, according to a selection plan approved yesterday by the state Board of Education.

"We realize the timeline might shift a little as the search progresses, but our goal is to have someone named by mid-November and have them start the job as soon as possible," board Chairman Joe Brothers said.

The position has been advertised since mid-July on the Kentucky Department of Education's Web site. So far, five people have applied, Brothers said.

The board will advertise the position in state and national publications and accept applications until Sept. 30.

"Certainly, we have a place in our heart for Kentucky educators, but that doesn't mean we won't consider educators from out of state," Brothers said. "We want the most qualified person out there."

The full board will serve as the screening committee and will narrow the applicants to several semifinalists on Oct. 3, he said. Each semifinalist will undergo an "extensive background and reference check," he said.

"We are going to hire someone to assist us with the background and reference check," Brothers said. "Once the (semifinalists) get through the background check, we hope to publicly identify about five finalists."

Interviews will be conducted on Nov. 13, the same day the board would like to name the new commissioner.

This will be the second commissioner search conducted this year.

The board has been looking for a replacement since last November, when Gene Wilhoit left to take a job in Washington, D.C.

In May, the board voted 10-0 to name Illinois educator Barbara Erwin as commissioner. But after a series of revelations about her background, Erwin resigned July 13 -- three days before she was to begin the job.

Ray and Associates Inc., the Iowa-based firm the board hired for up to $50,000 to assist with the first search, offered to conduct the second search at no cost, but the board decided not to use the firm again.

Board members have criticized Ray and Associates, saying it should have vetted Erwin more closely.

The board's critics have agreed that the search firm should have done a better job, but they also say that board members failed to do their job. They say the board ignored concerns raised by the media and the public over Erwin's resume, which contained an award she hadn't won and a presentation she never made, and her reputation for running roughshod over teachers and administrators when she was a superintendent in Texas, Arizona and Illinois.

In a job created in 1990 as part of Kentucky's education reform efforts, the commissioner oversees the Department of Education and recommends and implements policies for the state's 175 public school districts, which include more than 1,200 schools and 660,000 students.

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