Fayette County Public Schools board member Daryl Love said Tuesday that the district's soon-to-be-named interim superintendent will begin implementing 10 recommendations for closing achievement gaps among various groups of students.
The school board hopes to name a permanent superintendent by July, but Fayette Equity Council chairman Roy Woods said after a news conference Tuesday that the district shouldn't wait for the new superintendent to be named before implementing the recommendations.
Love said he hoped that an interim superintendent would be named this week. The candidates are former Fayette interim Superintendent Marlene Helm and former Anderson County Superintendent Ronald "Sonny" Fentress.
Sonny Fentress and Marlene Helm
Superintendent Tom Shelton's last working day is Dec. 12. Shelton has resigned to become executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.
In October, the school board approved the recommendations, which range from placing attention on mental-health issues to holding leaders of schools with the highest achievement gaps accountable.
Members of the equity council have said that decades of initiatives and talk of reform have led to little progress for black, Hispanic, poor and disabled students.As for the interim candidates, both Fentress and Helm are experienced school administrators who are capable of guiding the district until a successor to Tom Shelton is selected.
Shelton recently announced a timetable for implementing the recommendations, with many changes scheduled for the first half of 2015.
Love said the interim superintendent will be asked to make significant progress on the recommendations and other initiatives, including redistricting school boundaries.
I will confess to having my own biases here.
Helm knows the district well, has subbed as superintendent here, and I am familiar with her work. Her attachments to equity issues are a plus.
I only know Fentress by reputation (which is good) but would like him a lot better if I had not attended a meeting in the Anderson County schools, somewhere around 2002, where he led a room full of folks in prayer. Like some number of superintendents who share and support the local majority's desire for Christian expressions in the public schools by knowingly going along with unconstitutional activities, I'm not sure he is the best fit for Fayette County's more diverse population.
And how clever is Carmen Coleman? She applies for the interim position, gets an interview with the board, and only then discovers that she's too busy to be interim, but might be just right for the position long-term. Sweet.