Fayette County students returned to class Monday after enjoying a lengthy break for the holidays.
Monday also was the first school day for interim superintendent Marlene Helm, who takes the reins from Tom Shelton.
Helm’s contract officially began Jan. 1, but the board allotted her 12 days in December, which she spent visiting schools and meeting with employees.
Helm, who was interim superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools about 10 years ago, sent an email to parents that said “the insights shared with me so far have been illuminating and I look forward to hearing and learning more from those I have yet to meet with.”This from Dr. Helm:
“Like a team adjusting its game plan at halftime, we will make course corrections to improve our performance in these and other areas,” she wrote.
Helm replaces Shelton, who resigned after a tumultuous year that includes a state audit that raised concerns about the district's finances and failed communication among district leaders.
Board members are in the process of finding a permanent leader of the district. Until then, Helm will be working to resolve some of those issues. Helm is not being considered as a permanent replacement. The earliest a new permanent superintendent could start would be July 1.
"We need to provide the auditor with monthly updates and we need to make some progress there," Helm said, adding that she expects to tackle the district’s challenges head-on.
The welcome letter she sent to parents is the type of gesture that Helm says is needed to establish open communication with school administrators, teachers, staff and parents of students.
"We've been entrusted to make sure their children are receiving a world-class education and in order to do that we've got to constantly be changing and change is hard," she said.
Dear FCPS Families:
Welcome back from winter break! While having time to spend with loved ones is wonderful, we truly do miss having our students on campus and it’s exciting to have them back. Whether or not you have a formal “New Year’s Resolution,” returning to school after a break always feels like a chance for a new beginning and a fresh start, or what I like to call the “second half.”It is an honor to have the opportunity to again be a part of the amazing Fayette County Public Schools’ team as your Acting Superintendent. When I was an aspiring teacher at Kentucky State College, my ultimate dream was to teach and work in Fayette County, and the 21 years I spent in service here were the highlight of my professional career.Although my contract officially began January 1, the board allotted me 12 days to work in December and I spent that time visiting schools and meeting with employees and other stakeholders. The insights shared with me so far have been illuminating and I look forward to hearing and learning more from those I have yet to meet with. Closing the achievement gap, increasing communication, ensuring equity, and improving culture and climate are the themes that have started to emerge for our focus and commitment in the second half. Like a team adjusting its game plan at halftime, we will make course corrections to improve our performance in these and other areas.The reason our school district exists is to provide students with a world class education. Everything we do, from the board room to the classroom, the lunchroom to the bus stop, must support the success of each and every child in the Fayette County Public Schools. You have my commitment that I will work with employees, families, students and community members to align and focus all of our efforts on that singular goal.Thank you for being a part of the Fayette County Public Schools, for working in partnership with the staff at your child’s school, and for entrusting to us your child’s education. We share your goal of seeing your child achieve great things, and together we can, and will, ensure their success.Sincerely,Marlene Helm, Acting SuperintendentFayette County Public Schools