Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Silberman to Retire July 1st

Retirement Plans Confirmed

Board Promised Open Process
for Selection of New Superintendent

In a statement obtained by KSN&C today Fayette County Schools Superintendent Stu Silberman announced his plans to retire at the end of the current school year.

Citing the desire to spend more time with family, Silberman says he has no employment plans at present.

Some in district leadership have commented on Silberman's health, specifically persistent back problems that have challenged him. Staffers note the 3 AM emails and have wondered about his sleep. Others have speculated about other reasons. Silberman expressed his reasoning in a statement to board members.

It is with mixed emotions that I write today to let you know that I have decided to retire at the end of the year. Although my last days at work will be this summer in July, it was important that I announce this decision early enough to provide sufficient time for the board to hire a replacement to continue the amazing progress in our school district.

Please know that I did not enter into this decision lightly. I care deeply about our school district and our kids. But at the same time, I am certain I must move on to this next phase of my life after 37 years of serving. I have given this a lot of thought and prayer and have come to the conclusion that this is a time in my life where I need to spend more time with my family. It is very hard to explain, but when you come to this point in your life, you just know it. That time has now come for me.

Due to the timing of my announcement, some people will think that this is a decision because of the snow, but I must tell you that is not the case. I have been making snow calls for more than 20 years and am used to what comes along with that job. As you know, some people might speculate that there are other reasons for my decision but I hope you will help everyone maintain the focus on our kids. This is truly just a personal decision. I am very much at peace.

One other thing I feel I need to address is the fact that I am not staying for 10 years. When I was hired to lead our district back in 2004, I was Fayette County’s fifth superintendent in three years. I felt strongly that we needed stability in leadership if we were going to impact student achievement, and at the time I believed that would require 10 years. During the last seven years, I have had a multitude of opportunities for advancements to other positions in other places, but continued to remain here to make sure we established the stability and foundations needed for our kids.

There is no question at this point that we have gained that stability and our foundation is solid. With the work that is happening, I believe FCPS is poised to continue taking our kids to the next levels and closing our achievement gaps. There is no question about this in my mind because we have such great employees who truly care about our kids. I could not have made this decision if I did not believe in you and did not feel certain that the work would continue to move forward. I am counting on you to make that happen for our kids.

There is no doubt that our Board of Education will continue to support you in all endeavors to help our kids. With our new members in place, I have watched this team begin to gel under the outstanding leadership of Board Chair John Price. Over the years I have been here we have been blessed to have Boards of Education that truly made decisions based upon what is best for kids. I am very thankful for the support they have provided to all of us. The same goes for this community – any time we have gone to them for help, they have stepped up to the plate. Just think of all the construction and renovation projects that have been made possible because of our community support. We are truly blessed!

At this point in time I am not sure what I will be doing in the next phase of my life. My heart tells me that I have this beautiful little three-year-old granddaughter that I want to spend more time with, along with a father and in-laws who are getting on up there in age. I have no plans for work at this time.

I am so proud of the progress that has taken place in our school district. I know that your work has produced major increases in student achievement and the narrowing of achievement gaps. Each of you is making a positive difference and the
improvement will continue! I think you know me well enough by now to know that my heart will always be with you and Fayette County! It is with deep respect and admiration for you that I share this announcement. Thank you for all you have done and all you will continue to do in the future.




And here's the district press release:

Superintendent to Retire:

‘After 37 years of serving … it’s time.’

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Stu Silberman, who has led the school district to national prominence since taking the helm in 2004, announced today that he will be retiring. Although Silberman’s last days of work will be in July, he said he wanted to announce his decision early enough to give the Fayette County Board of Education ample time to conduct a thorough search.

“I care deeply about Fayette County and our kids and did not enter into this decision lightly,” Silberman said Tuesday. “But at the same time, I am certain I must move on to this next phase of my life after 37 years of serving. I have given this a lot of thought and prayer and have come to the conclusion that I need to spend more time with my family. It is very hard to explain, but when you come to this point in your life, you just know. It’s time.”

Silberman dispelled speculation that his decision was based upon the difficulty of snow decisions or a call to another post.

“I have been making snow calls for more than 20 years and am used to what comes along with that job,” he said. “Kathy and I have been talking about this for a couple of months. There is no where other than Fayette County that I would want to be superintendent.”

During Silberman’s tenure, student achievement in Fayette County has skyrocketed from three schools surpassing 100 on the state accountability system to 24 this year. Student performance in reading and math has improved dramatically – from roughly half of students meeting state benchmarks in 2004 to nearly 8 in 10 last spring.

Under Silberman’s leadership, the district has become more transparent and proactive in communication with families, employees, community and the media. Rather than a constant cycle of budget cuts, the district is now on solid financial ground. Massive community support led to the passage of a sorely needed property tax to address longstanding facility needs, and 21 renovations and new buildings are currently in various stages of completion.

“I just can’t say enough about the hard work that’s taken place in this school district by our teachers, staff, students, families and community members,” Silberman said. “This is a wonderful school district, with talented employees and an incredibly supportive community. I know we will attract outstanding candidates to continue the work.”

Other improvements include increased world language offerings, financial literacy curriculums in the middle and high schools, a customer service initiative, expanded Advanced Placement offerings, more school nurses, investments in technology and music education and additional preschool services. The district has expanded its Spanish immersion program, launched a partnership with Bluegrass Community and Technical College that places high school students on a college campus during the junior and senior year, established an alternative school for middle and high school students seeking a different teaching style and broken ground on a state-of-the-art AgriScience center that will be the first of its kind in the nation.

These myriad accomplishments have brought recognition to the Fayette County Public Schools and Silberman himself. In 2009, Parenting Magazine named Lexington the #2 city in the nation for education. The district’s communication efforts have garnered state and national awards. The district’s bond rating has been upgraded to AA, making it possible for FCPS to get the lowest finance interest rate ever recorded in the state of Kentucky for a governmental entity.

In 2008, Silberman was one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year. Last fall he received two national distinctions: the 2010 Award for Outstanding Support of Early Second Language Learning and the 2010 Excellence in Educational Leadership Award. He also earned the 2010 Outstanding Administrator Award from the Kentucky World Language Association. He has three times been named Kentucky’s State Superintendent of the Year, twice by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators and once by the Kentucky School Boards Association.

“Part of the decision making process that I went through was becoming at peace with the district being on a very solid stable, foundation,” Silberman said. “I believe that the district is poised to continue to move to the next levels for our kids. There’s no way I could have made this decision if I didn’t believe that the work would continue.”

When Silberman was hired in 2004, he was Fayette County’s fifth superintendent in three years. At the time, he pledged to stay 10 years in order to provide stability for the district.

“I believe we’ve achieved that stability,” Silberman said. “There’s no doubt that this school district is on a solid foundation. And I know our school board members and staff will maintain the focus on doing what’s best for our kids.”

Fayette County Board of Education Chairman John Price praised Silberman for his service and expressed confidence that the district would continue its mission to maximize student achievement.

“We appreciate the work that Stu has done for our district and community, and we will certainly be sorry to see him retire,” Price said. “I want to assure everyone that we will continue to move forward to raise achievement for every student. This will not stop or slow down our focus on student achievement.”

The work happening in classrooms and schools throughout the district will remain strong, he explained.

“We as a community need to realize that our student achievement takes place in the classroom under the leadership of our teachers, our principals and our IAKSS support team,” Price said. “And all those others will continue their efforts every day as they have been doing under Stu’s leadership.”

Price said the school board would have to meet to begin taking steps to find the next superintendent to lead Fayette County. He anticipated that the board would move swiftly to ensure a strong pool of candidates.

Under Kentucky statute, a superintendent screening committee comprised of two teachers, one board of education member, one principal, one parent and one classified employee will be formed to assist the school board in the selection of the next Fayette schools chief.

“I anticipate, with the support of the board, that we would use a process very similar to when Stu was hired, which was a very open process with lots of community involvement,” Price said.

This from H-L:

Stu Silberman

Hometown: Selden-Centereach, Long Island, N.Y.
Family: Wife, Kathy; three adult daughters: Kristyn Silberman, former marketing director for Lexington Philharmonic; and twins Traci Bass and Stacy Silberman. (The Silbermans didn't know they were having twins until the girls were delivered; Stu hates surprises.)

Education: Bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Additional graduate work in educational leadership at the University of Alabama.

Experience: More than 21 years in the Chattanooga Public Schools, as a chemistry and physics teacher and football, baseball and wrestling coach; assistant principal at Chattanooga High School; principal at East Side and Tyner junior high schools; area director; assistant superintendent for human resources; and deputy superintendent for resource management.

Honors: American Association of School Administrators Kentucky Superintendent of the Year, Kentucky School Boards Association Superintendent of the Year, National Tech Savvy Superintendent Award, Owensboro Humanitarian of the Year, R.L. McFarland Award for Advancing Human and Civil Rights, Friend of Music Award from the Kentucky Music Educators' Association, Outstanding Citizen Award from the Hamilton County Commission.


Anonymous said...

Now it is time to re-write the history of Fayette County Public Schools since 2004. Let the revisionists step forward.

In the new version, Stu Silberman, because of his love of children, came to Lexington in via Owensboro and Chattanooga and New York to head a troubled school system where racist white teachers willingly tried to prevent minority students from reaching proficiency in all their subject areas.

In the new version, Dr. Silberman cleaned up a corrupt school district by removing dead weight in Central Office (Brenda Allen) and forcing lazy,insensitive school employees (teachers) to respond to doting parents within 24hours of a call or an email and teach the core content they had long neglected to teach.

In the new version of the Silberman era, there will be no mention made of Michael Ernst, a hand-picked Stu minion who threatened staff members, make derogatory comments via email about overweight employees, and made unwelcome sexual advances to male employees.

In the new version, Dr.Silberman did everything for kids the kids of Fayette County, but he was brought down after he could endure no more harassment from self-serving Trustee Amanda Ferguson.

In the new version of the history of FCPS, all those who have sued Stu (Peggy Petrelli, Jill Goodin, and Rosalind Hurley-Richards) were either incapable or dishonest or abusive employees who deserved to be fired, suspended or outsourced because they did not repect the dignity of children.

In the new version of FCPS, there will no be no need to mention KERA, Dewey, Horace Mann,or Kirkpatrick,or the Prichard Committee. Erase the names of Potts and Walton and Flynn from the history books. Dr. Silberman will be both the Alpha and the Omega.

Today Merlene Davis wrote in her column, "It is purely out of selfishness that I lament Stu's loss." As a teacher who worked hard before Stu came, who worked hard after Stu came, and will work hard after Stu goes, I, too, rejoice, and I rejoice out of pure selfishness, too.

You see, Dr. Silberman had no respect for his teaching staff and liked to the let public know that he would put us in our place because we had lost track of our reason for working in FCPS.

Now I rejoice because someone finally put Dr. Silberman in his. We will never know the whole story behind Dr. Silberman's final exit, but I'm content allowing a gullible public to believe it was because he wanted "to devote more time to his family."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Stu Silbeman left because the walls were crumbling around him. Many of my colleagues, from lowly bus drivers, to secretaries to high and mighty administratrators all had hired Brenda Allen to take another bite out of Stu Silberman's behind, just like she had to right their wrongs. In all honesty, she had been in Central office nearly as much as she had as an employee! This time, however she was on the other side of the table and our "free legal services" were not present and we had a mini dictator to try to counteract her brilliant legal mind. He was outmatched and saw no nothing to save him in sight. Plus, Richard you had started too pick at some bloody scabs that he didn't want exposed. Keep diggin' maybe he will leave sooner and get a decent super in!!

Anonymous said...

As I read all the praise for Mr. Silberman I realised that the end does not justify the means.

In the process of all the good things he accomplished, he did some very unethical and possibly illegal things. Several lives seem to have been damaged in the quest to convince us that It's About Kids.

Richard Day said...

Thanks for the comments y'all.

February 1, 2011 8:38 PM: I'll do a separate post on my reaction to Ms Davis's column.

February 1, 2011 9:46 PM: If it is just as Silberman says, and health issues are NOT at play (as I thought), and he started thinking about retiring last fall, discussing it with family over Christmas,and it came to a head this week...then I must assume external events may have been at work.

August is when the Herald-Leader revealed the $200,000 under the table payment to Brenda Allen which validated Amanda Ferguson's concerns over the handling of her departure.

October saw Becky Sagan's resignation and board member Kirk Tinsley's exposure on tax issues.

By November Silberman had a substantially new board with the addition of Barnett, Love and the return of Ferguson.

Kindred spirit Michelle Rhee and Shelly Berman were on the way out by December. And by that time Brenda Allen was receiving visitors from lexington in her new Frankfort law office.

February 2, 2011 12:22 AM: ...aye, there's the rub.

Anonymous said...

Wait and see....I hear that there are some parents of gay and lesbian students who are documenting how Stu ignored the harassment of gay and lesbian students in the school system....

Anonymous said...

What a bad man, that Stu, for making you respond to families in a timely manner. What a bad man for holding teachers accountable for students learning. What a bad man for holding the adults accountable for the safety and well-being of kids under their care.

You're right, the old days were better, when we didn't give a damn half our kids weren't learning, and the adults got paid regardless, and the administrators kissed the moms and kept things quiet. You know, a quiet and happy school is a good school? Those were much better days for sure.

But for who?

Read the hundreds of positive comments on Facebook & Kentucky.com and then compare them to the ilk on this slam site. Certainly this is the "in spot" for the self-absorbed public servants, disgruntled former employees, and character assassins who never had in their hearts it really was about kids and not them.

Garbage in, garbage out. Thanks KSN&C, you just continue to lower the standard for responsible and decent media. Bookmark deleted.

Richard Day said...

Bad man?

That's certainly not what I'm saying. In most things I give Silberman very high marks. And I have read the sites you mention and, yes, comments are overwhelmingly supportive.

But are you suggesting that KSN&C should hide any information contrary to the popular narrative? Is that character assassination? Sorry. I'm not interested in hero worship or sanitized reporting.

For that, I suggest you bookmark political sites like the Bluegrass Institute. You can count on the same message all the time no matter what the data say.

KSN&C did not invent the several cases challenging Silberman's handling of personnel matters in the district. We reported it. And if you can find error in our facts, I invite you to let us know and we'll correct it.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Richard!!! Thanks for standing up for your site and providing information that the HL surely won't. Yes, there are hundreds of positive comments for Mr. Silberman on the facebook site, and several dozen on the HL website but that's still a paltry "outpouring of support" for him when there are 38,0000 students and probably 50,000 parents out there that he serves. It would seem that the HL could show more than 100+ postive comments when the population he serves is so huge? And as for the facebook page, just over 500 positive comments, but 16,000 friends. Can we call the Hanna Group and pay them a few grand to do a per capita analysis on this? Let's see--I'm not sure but I think even among his facebook friends, he's only showing support of .03%. Hate to see his support amoung the 8000 employees. Even his "inner circle" is quiet on FB & the HL.

Anonymous said...

I think Jack Hayes will write something positive...

Anonymous said...

And yet the public, those who gave Stu the accolades, still do not know about the lawsuits of Jill Goodin, Peggy Petrilli, and Rosalind Hurley-Richards. How much will these lawsuits cost the school district?

Anonymous said...

Rumor is that there are several more lawsuits coming from people who have hired the FCPS former General Counsel and that is why Silberman decided to suddenly retire to spend time with his family. Hasn't he had that same family for years? With the "sheriff" gone from central office (Ms. Allen) the super and HR director began a siege of terror, and those folks found their way to Frankfort. Should be interesting. ... What a way to go out Stu...will your legacy be tarnished. I'll be watching to see.