Friday, March 16, 2012

Guy S. Potts, Fayette schools superintendent from 1961-1984, dies at age 87

This from the Herald-leader:
Guy S. Potts, who served as superintendent of the Fayette County Schools from 1961 to 1984 and guided the district through periods of growth and controversy, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Mr. Potts died at Mayfair Manor in Lexington, where he had been living since developing health problems, his family said.

Mr. Potts was 36 when he came to the Fayette County Schools from Chattanooga, where he had been assistant superintendent of the city schools.

An Ohio native, he arrived in Lexington at a time when some Fayette schools were running double sessions to cope with overcrowding. He spent the next several years campaigning for higher taxes to improve the system.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Potts coordinated the merger of the county and city school districts, essentially doubling the size of the system overnight. He was credited with keeping the new system in the black, upgrading old schools, building new ones and introducing innovations.

For example, Fayette County schools were the first in Kentucky to develop procedures to identify students with learning disabilities. Mr. Potts promoted other ideas such as offering honors programs at junior high schools.

But some critics saw the superintendent as a stern, sometimes blustering leader who was quick to tell opponents just what he thought.

"I'm very outspoken," Mr. Potts said when he retired in 1984. "I say whatever I have to say to whomever it needs to be said. ... If I offended anyone, I'm sorry."

But associates said Thursday that there was another side to Mr. Potts.

"He came across publicly so many times as being gruff, but what many people missed was that he was so compassionate," said Joe David Martin, former assistant personnel director for the county district. Martin said Mr. Potts frequently told Martin to do things "on the QT" to help people, and often they were individuals with whom the superintendent had clashed.

"I guess he felt like he had to have that exterior if he was going to enforce policies consistently," Martin said. "It was rather like Harry Truman. The buck stopped on his desk, and he wanted it to stop exactly the same way for every situation." ...

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