Thursday, November 15, 2007

Board to name school commissioner, won't reopen search

This from the Courier-Journal

COVINGTON, Ky. -- The state Board of Education said yesterday that it plans to name a new education commissioner later this month, despite a plea last week from Gov.-elect Steve Beshear to start a new nationwide search...

...[Board Chair Joe] Brothers said that, after two days of intensive interviews with the four finalists at the Embassy Suites in Covington, the board believes it is time to make a decision.

"We've heard a message over the last few days from across the state that it is time to make a decision," he said.

Brothers said the board's decision was not meant to be a rebuke to Beshear. But he said the board feared that the integrity of the search would have been jeopardized had it scrapped its current batch of finalists.

"We have some responsibility to these people who have applied," he said. "Now, had it turned out today that they were not the quality people we wanted to be our commissioner, then certainly it would've been a different outcome completely -- whether or not the governor had approached us. It's just an inopportune time for us to change horses in midstream." ...

...Brothers said the board did not name a commissioner yesterday because it wants to speak to its top candidate to clarify some answers to questions asked during the interview. The board received applications from 52 people, 26 of them with Kentucky ties, before winnowing them to the final four.

"We feel like we have good candidates," he said. "We've heard that from across the state. From those, we anticipate we will be able to make a decision."

While Beshear wanted the board to do a more comprehensive nationwide search, Brothers said the board heard from the public that it wants a Kentucky candidate. All four candidates either live in Kentucky or were born and raised in the state.

And, he said, it is important to have a commissioner who is familiar with the state's 17-year journey to improve education after the 1990 enactment of the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

"Throughout this process, from across the state … not just me but the entire board have heard over and over again they want a Kentuckian," Brothers said.

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