The Jefferson County Board of Education made the unexpected announcement after meeting in private for more than four hours. Board members had originally said they wouldn't make a choice before next week.
“We believe Dr. Hargens is the ideal fit for this job,” said Steve Imhoff, chairman of the school board. “Her experience in raising student achievement, her overall leadership approach and her commitment to diversity and student assignment make her the best choice to lead our district.”
Hargens, 53, has been responsible for improving teaching and learning for Wake County's 143,000 students. She also served as interim superintendent for 10 months during a time of political turmoil over that district's assignment plan.
“I am thrilled about being named the next superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools,” Hargens said in a phone interview with The Courier-Journal Tuesday evening. “I'm really looking forward to coming to town, meeting with staff members and getting ready for the start of the 2011-12 school year.”
Hargens will start Aug. 1. Imhoff said the school board must still negotiate a contract with her. She makes $148,965 in her current position in Wake County, while outgoing JCPS superintendent Sheldon Berman makes $260,000...
The school board chose Hargens over the objections of the NAACP and others who had asked the school board to reopen its search because of doubts about her and Johns' commitment to desegregation and their ability to lead the Jefferson County Public Schools.
Raoul Cunningham, the president of the Louisville branch of the NAACP, criticized the board for lacking transparency by selecting Hargens during a closed meeting that the board had said was only being held to consider the candidates and set a timeline for a decision.
But Cunningham said he would not begin Hargens' tenure “with a hostile attitude.”
“I'm disappointed and didn't expect them to make a decision today, but they did and it's over,” he said. “… We need to all move forward and now that we have a superintendent, we will do everything we can to work with her.”...