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.
And here's the district press release:
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.
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:
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.