Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Our First Education Commissioner Candidate?

Updated 5 June:
This from the Messenger-Inquirer by way of KSBA:

CBE President Shelton among applicants
for education commissioner

Daviess County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton (vitae)confirmed Tuesday that he has applied for the Kentucky education commissioner post...

“I thought that at least one Kentucky superintendent should apply,” Shelton said. “After learning that Stu (Silberman) and Roger Marcum and other likely players were not going to apply, I thought I should at least throw my name into the ring.” ...

Shelton said he doesn’t know how many people applied, but he knows he passed the initial screening for qualified candidates...

The state board will receive a report from the search firm when it meets June 10-11,
and first-round interviews are expected to take place June 15-16...

Larry Vick, superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools, said Tuesday that he has not applied for the job. He was a finalist for the post in 2007 when Draud was picked...

Finalists could be announced either right before or after the scheduled interviews, depending on whether the board wants to go for a second round of interviews, [KDE spokesperson Lisa Gross] said.

Shelton was picked last year as president of the Council for Better Education, a
statewide nonprofit group that won a school funding court case leading to the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act.

In a 2007 interview with AASA, Shelton cited his Christian faith as the greatest influence on his career.

A native of Princeton in the Bluegrass State, Shelton holds an abiding faith in the power of spirituality and prayer. He’s the deacon chair at Owensboro First Baptist Church, where he continues to teach religious studies to 16 teen-age boys, not the least challenging of audiences. “Every time I teach I get as much out of it as the students,” says Shelton, several of whose forebears served in the ministry. His father is director of missions with Ohio County Baptist Association in Kentucky.

Paul Strahan, the Owensboro church’s pastor whose two children attend Daviess County schools, sees Shelton’s poise in front of others. “When I’m with him, whether he’s talking about school issues or Baptist history, Tom is the kind of guy who speaks from experience and confidence and makes you want to listen to what he has to say. ... He’s got a sweet spirit but great influence.”

Shelton’s own thirst for knowledge seems unabated. (“He reads four books at once,” marvels Mary Tim Griffin, the school board president.) Without prompting from the board of education that hired him over more traditional candidates, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in educational leadership at University of Louisville.

For most of his professional life, Shelton crunched numbers or managed the work of others who did. He was a certified accountant, whizzing up the competitive corporate chain performing internal audits and financial analyses for firms that manufacture aluminum products and garden tools. He worked with Stu Silberman for five years in the 11,500-student Daviess County school system before being named Superintendent in July 2004.


Currently: superintendent, Daviess County Public Schools, Owensboro, Ky.

Age: 45

Family: Shelton and wife Gwen have two daughters, Audrey, 10, and Abby, 14. He is the son of Rev. Thomas L. Shelton, a longtime pastor who serves as Ohio County’s director of missions for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Background: Shelton was assistant superintendent for finance and operational support for five years and director of business and finance for four years before becoming superintendent in Daviess County. He hasn't been a teacher or principal during his career. An alternate training program established by Kentucky lawmakers has allowed him to receive his superintendent certification, and to work on a Rank I in administration and supervision (at UofL) that will include an instructional supervisor certification. Before joining the district in 1995 he worked 10 years for private companies in the financial field, including almost seven years at Alcan Aluminum in Sebree.

Education: Bachelor and masters degree at Murray State University.

Religion: Baptist. Shelton is a layman from First Baptist Church, Owensboro; a deacon and former finance chairman and member of the Kentucky Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program Study Committee.

Greatest influence on career: My Christian faith. It sustains me during difficult times and helps me stay focused on my goals. After a strong heritage as a child, I made a conscious decision at age 19 to live a life of servant leadership based on integrity.

Best professional day: For a door prize at the opening day program, I offer to do the jobs of two staff members for a day during the upcoming year. Two winners last year were classroom teachers — a primary teacher and a special education teacher. These two days were especially memorable. I’ve reflected on those experiences many times to help me stay focused on why we do what we do.

Books at bedside in 2004: The Holy Bible; Change Leadership by Tony Wagner et al; Leadership on the Line by Ron Heifetz and Martin Linsky; and Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Biggest blooper: After a meeting at a district facility undergoing major renovations that stressed the importance of keeping students and others safely away from areas where construction was taking place, I promptly drove right over a construction sign in the parking lot — earning me the nickname of “Crash” for several months afterward!

2009 eSchoolNewsTV Video: On tech-savvy school leaders.
Tech Stuff:
Follow Shelton on twitter -
Blog at -
Join Shelton on LinkedIn -
Skype name - bike1001


Shelton supported SB 145 which sought to exempt elementary, secondary and postsecondary education construction projects from Kentucky’s prevailing wage. This from the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition:
“If SB 145 were the current law, in Daviess County we would have saved over a half million dollars in school construction costs from our facilities plan budget,” said Tom Shelton, Superintendent of the Daviess County School District. “If we were able to better utilize these extra dollars, it would have a great impact on our children’s learning environment.”
Jan 17 2007 --Daviess County Public Schools is poised to become the first district to sign a contract with The Learning Community, the grass-roots, nonprofit group working to brand the Greater Owensboro area as a region that places a high value on learning for a lifetime. "Their concept is what we should all be about -- an endorsement of learning at any level," said Superintendent Tom Shelton during a routine board of education luncheon Tuesday. "It fits us so well that we feel like as a school district we need to be a part of it."

July 17, 2007 - "Funding is still inadequate," said Tom Shelton, superintendent of Daviess County Public Schools. "The good news is that the judge in our case left the door open for another suit. We don't plan on going that route, though. These three agencies have a joint legislative agenda with the same focus on school funding."

May 5 2009 - Daviess will use Post-CATS Index: Daviess County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton, who is also president of the Council for Better Education, has indicated his system will participate. And here.

no date - Supported CBE white paper on Sustaining the Commitment to assessment and accountability.

Feb 26, 2009: Opposed House Bill 346 which sought to allow school councils to set non-instructional hours for teachers.

Daviess County schools Superintendent Tom Shelton says school boards should determine teachers' work time beyond instructional hours. He says allowing each
school council in a district to set those hours would create too much inconsistency.
March 22, 2009 - Shelton gave SB 1 a mixed review.

..."There's some good and not-so-good sides to it," Daviess County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said. "I'm really surprised there hasn't been more outcry to this."Shelton, who was in Frankfort on Friday when the last-minute discussions on the bill were taking place, gave the Daviess County Board of Education an update at a Friday night board retreat held at the central office."Quite frankly, the legislature shouldn't be deciding this," Shelton said. "They should set the standards, and the department of education and local districts should be creating this."Shelton said he would have preferred to leave CATS intact until 2014, the target year for all Kentucky schools to have helped students achieve proficiency in the tested subjects."If I was among the public, I would be saying, 'You promised me proficiency by 2014. ... Now what?' " Shelton said.

Earlier, on Jan 6, Shelton told the Messenger-Inquirer, "If a new bill is anything like Senate Bill 1 from last year, we will fight it," Shelton said. "We believe that changes are needed, but a multiple-choice test and the components of SB 1 will not prepare kids for today's world." A better approach would be to take the recommendations from the task force on assessment and accountability and build on those, he said.

April 19, 2009 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton opposed random drug testing for students and employees.

"We do not have any current plans to randomly test students or staff, other than the current policy requirement to randomly test bus drivers based on CDL licensing requirements," said Tom Shelton , superintendent of Daviess County Public Schools. The district requires all staff members that work with students to complete a pre-employment drug screening and has the ability by policy to require staff members to submit for testing based on reasonable suspicion, he said. "We have discussed random testing for students in the past but decided to wait on pursuing this until we were advised legally that staff could be randomly tested," Shelton said. "It is our understanding from our board attorney that the court cases indicate that this cannot be done at this time, and we do not feel we should subject students to any testing that we would not also do for staff."
Jan 17, 2009 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) On Daviess County performing better than expected on state achievement tests, according to a study from the Center for Educational Research in Appalachia:

Looking at data in a unique way, as with the survey, is always helpful, said Daviess County Superintendent Tom Shelton . "In Kentucky, it makes sense to break down the data by socio-economic indicators," Shelton said. "Kentucky doesn't have large numbers of minorities or large numbers of non-English-speaking students, although that population is growing. But socio-economic status affects all of Kentucky." The superintendent cautioned, however, against using the data as an excuse for students not achieving at high levels. "That's not what the study is saying, but some people may use it in that way," he said. "The study shows, however, that some low-socio-economic districts are high-achieving."

Feb 8, 2009 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton supported Mike Cherry's bill to allow up to 10 disaster days for school systems who are in the federally declared disaster areas.

Feb 28, 2009 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Tom Shelton was chosen for membership in the Century Club 100, a national leadership development organization.

Dec 18, 2008 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton received the Governor's Award for Outstanding Contribution to Kentucky Law Enforcement.

April 19, 2008 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton opposed a "schedule reduction" plan that would encourage public schools not to schedule private schools in any sport.

Apr 9, 2008 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton complained about lawmakers mandating a 1 percent salary increase for school employees.
"I understand that times are really tough and budgets are tight, but 1 percent is almost an insult," Shelton said Tuesday. "It doesn't even meet inflation, and they're taking a loss in buying and earning power."
Dec 25, 2007 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton supported more preschool opportunities.
"The earlier we can get a kid started, the better off we are," said Tom Shelton, Daviess County Public Schools superintendent. "Some students who don't go to preschool come in two, three years behind, and if they do come in behind, sometimes they stay despite interventions."
Dec 21, 2007 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) During redistricting, Shelton supported small elementary schools.
Shelton said the board has agreed that 400-500 students is the best for Daviess County. "When you go much beyond 500, you have larger class sizes and it's taxing on the facility," he said. "There is a lot of research available on school size. ... 400-500 is the size for elementary schools cited in most studies."

Nov 29, 2007 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) ...and it can't hurt to have said nice things about Helen Mountjoy upon her being named Education Cabinet Secretary.
"I think her leadership was exceptional on the state board," Daviess County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said. "I think this is wonderful for Owensboro-Daviess County and the whole state." Mountjoy will be missed locally, Shelton added.

June 30, 2007 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) The Daviess County Board of Education gave Superintendent Tom Shelton a unanimous vote of confidence with an early contract renewal that includes a provision to roll over the agreement each year.

June 17, 2007 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton initiates exchange visits with the Binhu District in Wuxi, China.
"I signed a memorandum of understanding of how our partnership will continue to move forward," said Superintendent Tom Shelton , who was among an 11-member
group of educators who visited Wuxi from May 25 to June 6. "There are definitely
things we can learn from them."
Nov 24, 2006 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton supported high expecdtations for students in poverty.
"I fully believe that with the right resources, the right support and the right culture, all students can achieve at high levels," Shelton said. "I don't believe poverty, race or ethnic origin prohibits students from learning." It's a matter of creating expectations and securing the resources for teachers to help their students succeed, he said.

Oct 31, 2006 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton commended the KEA for its work on the health insurance benefits.

June 27, 2006 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Shelton commented on student graduation speeches that encorporated a religious message or prayer.

Grant Todd, this year's Apollo High School valedictorian, used much of his speech to witness to the crowd - telling the assembly that it was never too late to find the meaning of life and encouraging them to read the best-selling book ever, the Bible. Todd prefaced his comments by saying it was his two minutes to use as he wished. Superintendent Tom Shelton said Daviess County Public Schools has let students who have been selected to speak at graduation write their speeches. "We never have listed prayer for graduation since I've been here," he said. "In the opening and closing by selected students, some kids have read poems, some have welcomed people, and some have prayed. It's left to the students...

Daviess County Public Schools has a Christian Student Union and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "We require all of our co-curricular activities to have school sponsors, but these groups are student-led," Shelton said. "The sponsors are there to be liaisons between organizations and the schools." This year, the district issued excused absences for students to attend the National Day of Prayer ceremony. Each school council establishes its attendance policy, and those students' requests met the schools' guidelines, Shelton said. "I'm going on my 12th year here, and the only question we've had on religion was about prayer before a public meeting," he said. "Our attorney researched it and recommended we not do that. He said we could allow a moment of silence if we wanted to." The board opted to be conservative and change to offering a moment of silence.

June 6, 2006 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Daviess County Public Schools has been accepted into the Executive Leadership Program for Educators at Harvard Business School. The local district is one of four systems in Kentucky and among only 16 in the nation selected for the prestigious program, Superintendent Tom Shelton said. "I knew that once the Harvard folks got to meet our district staff and learned all of the wonderful things we have going on, they would be impressed, but I also knew the competition would be tough," Shelton said.

May 31, 2006 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Daviess Co plans to go tobacco-free. Shelton said the remaining schools want the district to step forward with a policy rather than having each school make the decision. "We feel comfortable moving ahead earlier with the district implementation," Shelton said. "It's up to you all." The smoke-free initiative has been highly successful at the four schools that have gone ahead with the policy, Shelton said.

May 15, 2006 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) Daviess County Public Schools goes beyond the requirements of the Open Meetings Act. The school district doesn't have a written policy but sends out agendas for regular and special meetings and also makes them available at its office, Superintendent Tom Shelton said. Still, the board doesn't send out agendas for its regular luncheons. "Those are just discussion," Shelton said. "We don't have an agenda for those."

May 14, 2005 - (SOURCE: Messenger-Inquirer) The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit against two Daviess County Public Schools officials, claiming they violated a student's freedom of speech when Apollo High School Principal Tom Purcell prevented a student from wearing a T-shirt with the Confederate flag logo. The lawsuit also named Shelton as a defendant. Shelton said Confederate flags have caused "tension" in county schools.

"We have had incidents in the past ... the best way to put it is tension," Shelton said. "I don't think we've had anything beyond some tension and individual fights. "There was no individual incident that led to this situation." School board policy allows principals to ban any item that could disrupt education in the schools, Shelton said. "There is not a policy per say that prohibits a Confederate flag," Shelton said. "That's not the issue. We're talking about something that disrupts the educational process. We believe there is a good reason (to believe) a disruption will occur. That's why our principals acted the way they do." T-shirts with Confederate flags have "the potential to create a situation that is not good to the (school) environment," Shelton said. "They don't always happen to be Confederate flags. It could be anything that's disruptive to the educational process." The same policy against disruptions is used across the state. "It's not a specific Daviess County policy," Shelton said.

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