Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Fayette superintendent plans to create strong community presence quickly

This from the Herald-Leader:
When Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk arrives in Lexington in a few weeks to take over as superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools, several pressing issues will be waiting for him:
Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk
■ Construction of two new elementary schools and a new high school by 2017, with land bought for a third new elementary school.
■ Completing improvements to the district's financial system as a result of a critical 2014 state audit.
■ Improving the district's approach to low-performing schools as a result of a recent warning letter from Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.
■ Implementing a new redistricting plan beginning in 2016.
■ Deciding how to handle several administrative positions that are open at the district level. They include director of pupil personnel and senior director of administrative services, a position created to oversee the improvement of financial systems; director of technology; director of special education; and senior director of equity, school support and community engagement.
In an email message Tuesday, Caulk said he wants to demonstrate "to the community that I'm a committed leader who listens to multiple perspectives, learns, and makes informed decision that will help (the district) become a world-class system of great schools, and fosters a new level and spirit of community engagement and support."

Caulk said he plans to establish a strong community presence quickly.

He said he wants to learn crucial information about the district and community by meeting with teachers, staff, students, city and state officials, business leaders, post-secondary education leaders, nonprofit organizations and families.

Caulk said he intends to "create a network of critical contacts and resources that will support the district's work of improving the achievement of all students by raising the bar and closing the opportunity gap."

Caulk reiterated a pledge he made during his interview last week: that he wants to ensure that students who are proficient advance faster and that other students achieve proficiency.

He wants to make sure that "we have great teachers in every classroom and great school leaders in every building" and that there are effective systems in place to support schools.

"What do I want people to know about me?" he asked. "I'm a champion for all children."

Caulk has been the superintendent of the Portland, Maine, Public Schools — Maine's largest school district — since 2012.

This week, Portland school board chairman Sarah Thompson told the Portland Press Herald newspaper that Caulk had brought several initiatives to fruition.

She cited the board's work on a comprehensive plan for the school system, a multi-year budgeting process and the creation of an independent education foundation to raise money for the district, the newspaper reported.

According to the Press Herald, Ed Bryan, former school board chairman and part of the team that hired Caulk, said the school board launched a national search in 2012 to find someone with experience in urban schools.

Caulk's past accomplishments at that point included improved math and reading scores when he was an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia in charge of a division with 36 schools and 16,500 students.

The Portland school board voted unanimously in November to extend Caulk's contract to June 2019, but Bryan told the Press Herald in an article about Caulk's departure, "We knew if we hired a rock star, there was a good chance they wouldn't stay very long."

Caulk told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that he is committed to staying for the long term in Fayette County, where he was offered a contract through June 30, 2019, with a starting salary of $240,000.
"We are committed to FCPS beyond 2019," Caulk said.

"Lexington is a destination city, a great American city, and Fayette County is a destination district," Caulk said. He said he and his wife, Christol, were impressed by the number of families they met who had moved to Lexington planning on a short stay but had ended up staying and putting down roots.

"As Lexington will be our new home, we hope to put down roots and grow our marriage in the Athens of the West," he said. The couple married June 17.

Frankie Langford, president of the Fayette County Education Support Professionals Association, which represents custodians and technical support staff, said members were energized after meeting Caulk because they thought he "championed for children" and "believes in the staff and community."
"He was very charismatic. He gave you that eye-to-eye contact and was really genuine and sincere," Langford said.

Stephanie Bamfo, a rising junior at STEAM Academy, said she and other students want to work with the new superintendent "to make our system better."

"Emmanuel Caulk said publicly that his role is that of a servant leader and a catalyst for change," Bamfo said. "It is exhilarating to think our new superintendent is a man who is willing to serve and work with us to bring what we want and need most in this district: change. We need to make sure that students are not being force-fed policy but that we are part of the process of making and implementing policies that are beneficial to us."

And this:

New schools chief needs full support

Congratulations to the school board for a successful search and to Superintendent-elect Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk for recognizing the huge untapped potential in the Fayette County Public Schools.
Caulk, 43, will bring to Lexington varied and impressive experience as an educator and administrator.
And he will probably need every bit of it.

A pair of state audits revealed troubling weaknesses in both the financial and educational management of Kentucky's second-largest school district.

The Fayette board, the interim superintendent and a consultant have been working to correct problems and put better systems in place.

But ultimate responsibility for making the most of public dollars and serving all youngsters falls now to Caulk.

To realize those goals, he needs the support of the whole city, but especially the support of FCPS' administrators and staff.

There's no place for the petty rivalries and infighting that produced what the state auditor last year called a "toxic" environment. That dysfunction in parts of central office undermined sound financial management and kept school board members and the public in the dark about district finances.

More recently, state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday laid out a long list of concerns about the administration's capacity to lead school turnarounds and close achievement gaps. Caulk must shore up those weaknesses or risk a state takeover of FCPS.

It's encouraging that Caulk was attracted to Lexington by the potential and doesn't seem put off by the problems.

Some, including us, had feared that recent discord and the resignation of former superintendent Tom Shelton might scare off good candidates. That appears not to have been the case, another vote of confidence in FCPS' potential and in Lexington.

Congratulations and thanks also to the more than 500 people who attended sessions with the superintendent candidates and the 4,375 people who filled out surveys about what they think is needed in a superintendent. That level of public engagement had to impress the candidates.

Finally, such "firsts" may not be as significant as they once were, but it's worth celebrating that Caulk will be Lexington's first black superintendent of public schools.

One of his biggest challenges will be making sure that children of color and those from less fortunate circumstances finally get the educations they need and deserve.

Lexington's future prosperity depends on better educating more of our youngsters — or, as Caulk put it, "ensuring their demography doesn't equal their destiny."

The Caulk years: Many reforms, more outreach, a few missteps

The Portland Schools superintendent, praised for his initiatives and his ability to adapt to budget and policy challenges, is leaving after three years to lead a district in Kentucky.

This from the Portland Press-Herald:
When Emmanuel Caulk was named chief of Portland’s schools in 2012, the district was just emerging from a disastrous financial scandal that forced out a previous superintendent and prompted a major shakeup of policies and procedures.

The school board at that time wanted a superintendent with experience in urban schools who would build community ties and refocus on core issues, officials said. They chose Caulk, who was working in Philadelphia as an assistant superintendent in charge of a division with 36 schools and 16,500 students, more than twice Portland’s enrollment of roughly 7,000.
Three years later, Caulk is leaving Portland to be superintendent for Fayette County Public Schools in Kentucky, a system with 40,000 students.
Emmanuel Caulk and teacher Joan Gildart share a laugh at a City Hall reception for Caulk in 2012 after the Portland School Board voted to name him the new superintendent.
During his time in Portland, supporters say, Caulk established important new ties to the business community and improved community outreach, while using data-driven metrics to measure student achievement. But critics say some of his outreach initiatives were only distractions that didn’t directly improve education. They also note that test scores have not improved across all grades, and that he had to withdraw a “virtual school” plan after criticism.

“Certainly (Caulk) has taken a lot of things we discussed and started and really brought them to fruition,” said school board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson. She cited the board’s work on a comprehensive plan for the school system, a multi-year budgeting process and the creation of an independent education foundation to raise funds for the district.

“I think he brought a different approach to superintendent than previous superintendents. Some people think it was good, some thought it was bad. Different superintendents have different styles,” she said.

As for the next superintendent, Thompson said the board needs to hire someone with a “style that fits into what Portland wants. Even though we’re a big city in Maine, we’re a very close community.”
Caulk’s time in Portland has been marked by tight budgets and a changing landscape that included a new charter school in town and a series of education reforms enacted by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration. Those reforms forced school districts across the state to overhaul classrooms to align with Common Core standards, adopt new proficiency-based graduation standards and, in Portland’s case, deal with a shrinking state subsidy.


Caulk did not return calls for comment Sunday, but he had issued a statement last week when it was announced that he was a finalist for the Kentucky job. “I will miss Portland, but I’m eager to take on a new career challenge that represents an opportunity for me personally and professionally,” he said.
Board members said they knew when they hired Caulk that he might leave after his first contract term, which was originally due to expire this year but was extended twice by the board until June 2019. And that may happen again with his successor, said Ed Bryan, former school board chairman and part of the team that hired Caulk.

The board purposely launched a national search in 2012 to find someone with experience in urban schools, something they didn’t think they could find in Maine, Bryan said.

“We knew if we hired a rock star there was a good chance they wouldn’t stay very long. The job is so difficult, so multifaceted, it’s almost set up for failure,” Bryan said. “The decision the school board now faces is, do we go out again on a national search, and risk losing someone in three years since we are an attractive first step for someone looking for that first school district experience?”
Among the “urban” characteristics that shape Portland schools, officials said, is a high poverty rate among families and a large number of non-native English speakers.

Portland is the state’s largest school district, and 58 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of poverty, compared with the statewide average of 47 percent. Twenty-five percent are English language learners, who need additional resources, compared with a statewide average of 3 percent. The dropout rate is 3.2 percent, compared with 2.7 percent statewide.
Thompson said she thought the board should launch a national search again. “Portland deserves the best (either from) here or in another state,” she said.


When he arrived in August 2012, Caulk immediately faced significant budget issues.

The governor issued a curtailment order in December and shifted teacher retirement costs from the state to local districts, adding $1.5 million in spending to Portland’s school budget. Caulk also had to add $1.7 million in catch-up teacher raises in that first budget, and account for an unknown number of students from the district who would attend Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, a new charter school in Portland.

That $98.3 million budget cut 36 teacher positions and seventh-grade sports, despite being $4.7 million higher than the previous year’s budget and requiring a 3.7 percent increase in the school portion of the property tax.

Many of those positions and the sports programs were restored the next year, and in his most recent budget, 17 positions were added. Over his three years, Caulk increased the school budget by nearly $9 million, from $94.2 million under former Superintendent James Morse to the $103 million budget approved by voters this spring.

At the same time, enrollment remained steady at around 7,000 students. The district has 1,248 employees, with 660 teachers and 160 education technicians.


Former board members and colleagues said they are sorry that Caulk is leaving.

Like Thompson, City Councilor Justin Costa said Caulk moved the district forward, but served during a time when the superintendent was finishing work initiated by the board or previous superintendents.

“As superintendent, he followed through on those things,” said Costa, a former school board member. “His role has been more about refocusing.”

“I’m personally disappointed that he’s leaving as soon as he is,” said Peter Eglinton, former chief operations officer and a former school board member.

“I think the district benefited from his being with us. He brought a perspective that was different and a style that was confident and reform-minded. He was not afraid of questioning the way things were done,” Eglinton said.

Eglinton and the other top administration officials all resigned at various times in the past year, creating a complete turnover in Caulk’s top staff. Among the resignations were the top academic, finance, human relations and transportation officers. Exiting staffers said they were leaving for better opportunities or personal reasons.

Several school officials noted that most of Caulk’s initiatives were related to building ties to the community, adding avenues of communication or using data to measure progress.

The state compiles extensive education data and makes it available through its online data warehouse, and in recent years the Maine Department of Education launched annual report cards for every school in the state, which many educators found controversial.

Soon after the state’s report card was launched, Caulk introduced a “district scorecard” with much of the same testing data, plus additional measurements.

Caulk had already made a point of sharing data internally with school leaders, Eglinton and Bryan both noted.

“Early in his tenure he met with each principal of the schools and had them review the student data with him,” Eglinton said. The data had always been available, but reviewing it personally with the principals sent a signal about Caulk’s priorities, he said.

“Data was not just reported, but evaluated,” he said. “And students were the primary objective.”


Building up the district’s reputation with the local business and philanthropic community was behind several of Caulk’s initiatives, Bryan said.

“In Philadelphia he really relied on corporate partners, and he saw there was a gap here. He reached out and he started to build those relationships,” said Bryan, who serves as vice president of the Portland Education Foundation, which raises outside funds for the district.

The board praised Caulk for starting a book club, speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Eggs and Issues breakfast, noting student and teacher accomplishments during board meetings, starting an online newsletter, and launching an online video series highlighting certain district programs. He also initiated an annual online survey of parents, and held public meetings and launched online tools to explain the school budget process.

The board also praised Caulk for his “Principal for a Day” program, when local executives come to the schools for a day. The program has led to sponsorship of the district’s first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) exposition, and a donation of $18,000 in lab equipment from Idexx Laboratories.

Some of those efforts won’t pay off for years, Bryan said.

“He’s laying the groundwork for what’s to come,” said Bryan, noting that there have already been some successes. For example, when a local philanthropic group wanted to invest $100,000 in the schools, it called Caulk and asked how he would use it. He immediately said it would go to summer school programs in three schools, Bryan said. That clear-cut answer, with a specific program, is welcomed by donors, he said.

“We have had some relationships with the community, as a district, that have been challenging at times,” said Thompson, the board chairwoman. “(Caulk) did a fantastic job bringing them into the fold. I think that is key, having a happy community.”

Some critics of the school district said those initiatives don’t reflect the right priorities.

“I don’t think it’s totally Manny’s fault, but I don’t think the system has come up with any real framework for how to transform the school department into a place that is focused on education,” said resident Steven Scharf, a regular at school board meetings who often urges fiscal restraint.
“All these other things that come along are distractions,” he said of the community outreach efforts.
Some of the district’s biggest changes in recent years came outside the classroom. The system built a new central kitchen, purchased a new central office downtown, and moved the West School and adult education classes out of a substandard building and into leased space.

Academically, Caulk launched innovations, mostly for small numbers of students or individual schools. Among them was introducing a Spanish immersion classroom at one elementary school and an Arabic language class at one high school. The district’s pre-K program expanded slightly from 83 students to about 100 students last year. An elementary school adopted International Baccalaureate standards, and a high school adopted an international focus.


Caulk also had some missteps, including having to reissue the district scorecard after a contractor’s errors indicated vast test score improvements in some areas that were incorrect. He also had to withdraw his plan to launch a virtual school within the district, aimed at luring back charter school students, after criticism from the state commissioner of education and the city’s mayor.

Parent Tim Rozan said he wants the district to have a sharper focus on districtwide academic initiatives to improve college and career readiness, instead of “education bandwagon” ideas like early start times, Spanish immersion, launching a new website and the district scorecard.

“Bottom line, (Caulk) had absolutely no K-12 plan – either academic, counseling or career or college prep – and refused to press for individual skill achievement,” Rozan said. “I don’t see a plan.”

Academically, student test score trends in recent years have been mixed.

Districtwide scores on the New England Common Assessment Program, for grades 3-8, have improved across the board since 2010, while standardized test scores for grades 9-12, the Maine High School Assessment, have decreased across the board.

Individual schools have markedly different results.

In elementary school math scores, for example, East End Elementary School went from 25 percent of students scoring proficient or better in 2010 to 42 percent in 2013, and Riverton and Presumpscot schools also showed gains. Every other elementary school showed lower scores over the same period.
Complete test score data by school are available at portlandschools.org.


Former chief academic officer David Galin said the district needs top leadership that will continue to develop strategic plans to reach measurable goals, with clear benchmarks along the way.

“I believe strongly that if you set rigorous goals, have really solid instruction and really strong support for students, you can get so many students to higher levels academically. That’s the hard work. It happens in the classroom.”

Currently, the district regularly cites Caulk’s goal of making the district “the best small urban school district in the country by 2017″ in news releases and public statements. The district scorecard notes goals of improving test scores to higher percentages, but Galin suggested that itself isn’t a goal, just an indicator of progress toward a goal.

Thompson said the district’s comprehensive plan, completed in 2011, needs updating, but remains the road map for future superintendents.

“I think this board is not disappointed with the direction we are (going) in,” she said. “There may have been some things that Manny put a personal touch on that may change, but the general course is not going to change.”

Audit questions Fairview school district spending for athletics, other activities

This from the Herald-Leader:
Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen is turning over to law enforcement a special examination of the Fairview Independent School District in Boyd County that found questionable spending by the superintendent and excessive spending on athletics and non-instructional activities.

Edelen found that $360,000 in general fund money was transferred to school activity funds over three years with little or no board oversight.

The 63-page report, which will be referred to the Education Professional Standards Board and to law enforcement, "describes a tiny district in far northeastern Kentucky that allowed its athletics and other activities to deficit spend with no oversight, and then plugged any holes with money that could've been used for instructional purposes at the end of the year," a news release said.

The report alleges that the superintendent, now retired, circumvented board oversight, used a district credit card to pay for personal expenses and authorized a 32 percent pay raise for one employee. A sporting-goods contract was entered into without board approval, and the board did not consistently perform superintendent evaluations required by state law.

Fairview district officials were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Throughout the audit, several district staff reported that the superintendent, who is retiring this month, intimidated staffers so they wouldn't question his decisions or discuss his actions, the news release said.

"I appreciate school pride and share the insatiable enthusiasm Kentuckians have for their high school sports, but these were not responsible, grown-up decisions that were being made," Edelen said.
The district has fewer than 900 students, and 70 percent of them qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch. Teacher salaries and benefits as a percentage of total spending are the lowest among Kentucky's 173 public school districts.

"Do these kids deserve to take a fun senior trip and have well-supported sports programs that can compete with those in bigger districts? Absolutely," Edelen said. "But that doesn't trump our responsibility to provide them with a solid education and pay teachers a decent wage."

The report detailed how excessive spending on the football program probably resulted in the school district violating Title IX requirements. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally financed education program or activity. The district demonstrated a disregard for the law by under-reporting football spending by at least $148,260 and reporting inaccurate amounts for other sports, the news release said.

The Kentucky Department of Education will review the audit and will take appropriate action, spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said.

In 2013, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association handed down sanctions to Fairview High School including the forfeiture of 19 football games over two seasons, having its 2012 Class 1A state runner-up finish vacated, and the suspension and removal of the football team from the 2013 state playoffs.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/06/30/3924544/audit-questions-fairview-school.html#storylink=cpy

State to examine U of L Foundation's management

This from the Courier-Journal:
Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen announced Thursday that his office will examine the University of Louisville Foundation, which has been criticized for giving millions of dollars of deferred compensation and other pay to university President James Ramsey and his top administrators.

Ramsey last month denounced calls by several trustees for a such a review, saying they represented a challenge to his integrity.

But Dr. Robert Hughes, the chairman of the board of trustees and the foundation, said in a statement that the university "looks forward to working with the auditor's office" to review the relationship between the board and the foundation.

Edelen said in a news release that the office would conduct an examination into the governance and oversight of the foundation, which manages the school's $1.1 billion endowment.
"The foundation is critically important to the university, but it must be fully transparent," Edelen said. He also said the university's board of trustees "must have primacy" in governing university activities funded by the foundation. He said the review will take months to complete.

The Courier-Journal reported in March that Ramsey, who is also president of the foundation, had received $2.4 million in deferred compensation in 2012-13, while that year Provost Shirley Willihnganz got $1.8 million and Chief of Staff Kathleen Smith got $1.3 million.

WDRB.com later reported that some of the deferred compensation had been backdated and credited with fictional investment returns, that Willihnganz and Smith also had been paid by a separate nonprofit created by the foundation, and that Ramsey had received $2.5 million from the foundation in 2008.

In a special meeting last month, Ramsey angrily denounced calls for a review of the foundation. But several trustees said it was necessary. They included Steve Campbell, who said he hadn't gotten information about compensation he'd requested a year earlier, and board Treasurer Larry Benz, who suggested the foundation has grown so complex — it has more than $1 billion in assets and controls 10 corporations — that its processes and procedures should be audited.

Trustee Craig Greenberg on Thursday applauded Edelen's decision to review the foundation's management processes and said he expects "everyone at the university will fully cooperate with his work."

Edelen said in the release that Ramsey had presided over a period of "significant growth and achievement," but "I have heard from dozens of business and community leaders who believe that a review by my office will be a constructive exercise, resulting in easing tensions and a fact-based path for moving forward."

He also said that given the university's dramatic growth and enhanced academic reputation, the review is important to ensure the board of trustees is in a position "to meet its statutory and fiduciary obligations as the governing body of the institution."

Dissident members of the board have stepped up their criticisms in recent months. In April, citing news reports on the deferred compensation, Greenberg and fellow trustee Steve Wilson called for the foundation, which operates independently, to be placed under the supervision of the board.

Ramsey denounced that proposal, saying it would "kill" donations to the university because the trustees are appointed by the governor and donors would consider the process politicized. The foundation, which is also headed by Ramsey, raises money through private donations.

According to the foundation's tax report filed last month, in 2013 it paid $1.86 million to Ramsey, $663,038 to Willihnganz and $319,146 to Smith.

The board of trustees has hired a Chicago consulting firm, Verisight Inc., to produce a "competitive market review" of Ramsey's pay and that of five other administrators. The report is to be presented to the board at its meeting next month.

The company is being paid $23,000 to review the compensation of the university's three executive vice presidents, including its provost and head of health affairs, as well as its senior vice president for finance and general counsel, along with Ramsey.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Meet the Finalists

This from FCPS Video:

Mr. Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk, candidate for Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent meets with press and administration on June 24, 2015.

Caulk Press Conference

Caulk Public Forum

Dr. Terri Breeden, candidate for Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent meets with press and administration on June 26, 2015.

Breeden Public Forum

Breeden Press Conference

Who should be the next school superintendent in Fayette County?

New poll...up there!

Friday, June 26, 2015

District Bungles Exit Interview with Supt Finalist

This from the Herald-Leader:
The Fayette County Public Schools board had to cancel its Wednesday interview with superintendent candidate Emmanuel Caulk because district officials had failed to give the required 24 hours public notice of the meeting.

Terri Breeden, left, assistant superintendent of the Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, and Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk, the superintendent of the Portland Public Schools in Maine are two finalists interviewing for the Fayette County superintendent's job.
School board chairman John Price said the effect of that error is that instead of face-to-face interviews with both candidates, the board will have to interview Caulk and Terri Breeden via Skype for two hours each in closed session at a Saturday meeting.

Caulk was in Lexington on Tuesday and Wednesday. Because of scheduling conflicts, Caulk could not extend his visit.

To be fair to both candidates, the board also cancelled its 8 p.m. Friday meeting with Breeden.
Board members have identified two other strong candidates whose schedules didn't allow them to come to Lexington this week, said Price.

In a closed session Saturday, school board members could decide to bring those candidates to Lexington next week.

Or, after four hours of interviews with Caulk and Breeden and deliberations afterward, board members could decide between the two of them and announce Fayette County's next superintendent sometime Saturday.

That's possible, Price said, but it depends on what the board sees in Breeden's public interviews Friday and the Skype interviews Saturday. And he said board members have to review what stakeholders — community leaders, parents, teachers and students — say about Breeden and Caulk.
"That's why I say it will be difficult to make a decision on Saturday," Price said. "I'm not going to say it won't happen."

Price said that when choosing a superintendent in 2011, the board deliberated over three candidates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m on a Saturday.

Price said the latest search firm hired by the board, McNamara Search of Lexington, is continuing to get reference checks on the four finalists.

The candidates identified as finalists were first located by the search firm Proact Search, which the board terminated when questions unrelated to the search arose about Proact's CEO.

The school board is trying to find a replacement for Tom Shelton, who resigned last year.
Caulk is the superintendent of the Portland, Maine, school district. Breeden is an assistant superintendent in Loudoun County, Va.

The Public Record on Terri Breeden

The second announced finalist for the Fayette County superintendency is Loudon County (VA) Assistant Superintendent Terri Breeden.

Readers will notice that the public record on Dr. Breeden is much smaller than that of her competitor, Mr. Manny Caulk (about 50 pages edited down to 28). This is largely because Breeden has never held the superintendent's position, and therefore, was called upon less frequently to comment for the press. This is typical.

For example, when the Loudon County (VA) schools struggled with a budget crisis, last November  - one so bad that the Board of Education was considering charging students to ride the school bus - Breeden was operating below the fray. So it's hard to know from the Leesburg press how she reacted at the time. Shocked, one might hope. But we don't know from news reports.

Still, the record finds Breeden taking positions on issues related to instruction, assessment and accountability that should be of interest to the Board of Education.

Fayette Schools superintendent candidate Terri Breeden says 'high expectations' key to closing gap

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears vhoneycutt@herald-leader.com June 25, 2015 
Terri Breeden, a candidate for Fayette County Public Schools superintendent, said she has a "theory of action" when it comes to closing the achievement gap — the gap between low income, minority and disabled students and other students.

It involves a rigorous curriculum taught by high-quality teachers to engage students. Students need to know they are cared about and supported, but also that educators have "high expectations," she said.

Breeden, 59, has been assistant superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia for the past year. She is one of two candidates being interviewed this week by the Fayette school district; Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of Portland, Maine, public schools, visited Lexington earlier.

The school board is finding a replacement for Tom Shelton, who resigned last year.
Breeden met students, teachers and parents on Thursday as part of the interview process.
She said the fact that she is also a finalist for superintendent of Charleston, S.C., schools does not mean that she does not want to come to Fayette County.

"I would stay forever," she said. "This would be a dream job."

Breeden's parents were originally from southeastern Kentucky, and she has relatives here.
Breeden's husband, Frank Breeden, came with her to a reception at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School on Thursday. 

Breeden said her work in large urban districts prepared her to be Fayette County's next superintendent. The budget for the department she leads is larger than Fayette County's.
"I understand growth. I understand the achievement gap," she said.

"She's had experience in schools with a pretty diverse set of students," said parent Chris Begley, a professor at Transylvania University who met Breeden at the reception. "One of the challenges here, I think, are the inequities and differences between schools.

"It's going to take somebody who is sensitive to that and has had experience with that to be successful," Begley said.

Breeden started working in Loudoun — a school district of 80,000 students outside Washington, D.C. — in 2014. She previously was an assistant superintendent in Fairfax County, Va., a district of 181,000 students, and was director of grades 5-12 in the Nashville district, which has 84,500 students. Fayette's enrollment is about 40,000.

Breeden had been Fairfax County's assistant superintendent for professional learning and training, and she taught elementary and middle school in Nashville for 12 years and was an assistant principal and principal.

The Rev. C.B. Akins Sr. said Breeden had sterling past performances, and he said he did not doubt that she was "very well qualified."

"She obviously has a passion for education and a love for children," Akins said.

Parent Hazel Compton said Breeden told her she would support specialized programs such as Locust Trace, where Compton's son Dion studies agriscience.

"That was exciting to hear," Compton said.

Breeden's interview process continues Friday with closed interviews with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, a public forum and a news conference.

Q&A: CCSD superintendent candidate Terri Breeden talks about why she wants the job

 Deanna Pan Email Facebook @DDpan Jun 24 2015 5:33 pm Jun 24 6:07 pm
Terri Breeden, a candidate for superintendent of the Charleston County School District, says she’s seen “what works and what doesn’t work” in education. Now she wants to bring that knowledge to Charleston. 

Breeden is the last of three candidates to formally interview this week for the position and meet with the community. The school board has made each candidate available for public interviews: Gerrita Postlewait was interviewed on Monday and Lisa Herring on Tuesday. The Post and Courier has interviewed each candidate as they’ve become available.
Before earning her doctorate in school administration at Vanderbilt University, Breeden taught for more than a decade in elementary and middle school classrooms. She was a mathematics program specialist for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and later assistant principal and then principal of two Nashville, Tenn., public schools. 

From 2002 to 2006, she was the executive director of learning support services for grades 5-12 in Nashville. She then moved to Virginia, where she was an assistant superintendent at Fairfax County Schools. She is currently the assistant superintendent of instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. 

Breeden believes her experience in large school districts in Nashville and Fairfax makes CCSD a perfect fit. 

“As I look at the district, I see a lot of really good things,” she said. “I don’t see this as a district that needs to start all over. I think we just need to keep moving forward and address the achievement gap.”
Breeden talked about her support for school choice and dislike of mandatory, high-stakes testing. (Answers have been edited for length.)
Q: What about your past experience do you feel prepares you to helm the second-largest school district in the state?
A: I’ve never worked in a small district. Nashville was about 70,000. Fairfax County was about 160,000. The district that I work in now is over 70,000. My personal budget in my division right now is $564 million. I know about big schools systems. I know how to go to scale in big school systems. I know how to communicate in big schools systems. My life has been spent in big school systems.
Q: The previous superintendent had a somewhat contentious relationship with the members of the school board. What would you do to cultivate a cooperative relationship with the school board?
A: I think it’s very important that I spend a lot of energy on making sure I build trust and transparency and improve communication, not just with the school board, but with parents and families and community members. Their work is very important. There are very important issues and there are differences of opinion. But I think building trust and strengthening the relationship is the key to success and that’s usually done through very strong communication.
Q: Many of CCSD’s schools are heavily segregated by racial and socio-economic lines. What would you do to improve diversity across the district?
A: I see diversity as a strength. It has enriched my life and I think it enriches our children’s life and prepares them for the future. 

I think you’ve got some things that are really great — the magnet program, the choice programs that you have. I think children no matter what their background, they tend to have certain interests. Like today, I visited a school where arts is the emphasis. So I think those things help. Choice and voice in education is very, very critical and I think that’s the successful way to diversify in our schools.
Q: In recent years, CCSD has expanded school choice by opening more magnet, Montessori, charter and other nontraditional schools. What’s your position on school choice?
A: I think school choice helps with student engagement; I think it helps with parent engagement and community engagement. I think that school choice is a good thing. I think though all schools have to be high quality schools no matter if they’re choice, magnet or neighbor-zoned schools. They need to be of high quality. 

Q: Here and across the country, more parents are opting their children out of high stakes tests. What role do you think standardized testing should have in the classroom?
A: When I was in Fairfax County and also Loudoun County, I have been responsible for all the state assessment and accountability. We’re doing far too much testing. Personally, one of the things I have advocated for is sampling. I work very closely with the PISA test that samples students. I don’t think we need to test every child every year in almost every subject. ...I also believe that teachers through formative assessments in their classroom already understand what their students know and are able to do. I would like us to decrease the number of tests our students take.

Interview dates set for superintendent finalists

Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC) - June 13, 2015 Author/Byline: By amanda kerr akerr@postandcourier.com

The three finalists for Charleston County schools superintendent will go through detailed interviews when they visit the school district later this month.

Interviews will be held June 22 to 24 for the finalists: Charleston County Deputy Superintendent of Academics Lisa Herring; former Horry County Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait; and Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of the department of instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools in Ashburn, Va.

Postlewait will interview on June 22, Herring on June 23 and Breeden on June 24. Each candidate’s interview will include school building tours and meetings with school district staff.

Community receptions for the candidates will be held on each of the three days from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the school district’s main office at 75 Calhoun St. in downtown Charleston.

The board is searching for a new schools chief to replace Superintendent Nancy McGinley, who resigned under fire last year over her handling of an allegedly racially charged postgame celebration by Academic Magnet High School’s football team.

The school board announced the three finalists on June 4 after completing interviews with nine semifinalists…

Activists continue call for new superintendent search

Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC) - June 9, 2015 Author/Byline: By amanda kerr akerr@postandcourier.com

Calls for the Charleston County School Board to start over its search for the next schools chief continued Monday, with local civil rights activists again questioning the board’s intentions.

A group of around seven clergy, citizens and parents raised concerns about the search for the next superintendent during a school board meeting after making similar demands last week.

The Rev. John Paul Brown complained that the board’s “rush to the hiring of a superintendent ... is not serving to bring about the best candidate by way of transparency and public input besides allegations of secret meetings.”

The board has been under fire for its handling of the search since last month after board member Michael Miller called for a new search after revealing several board members met with former Horry County Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait prior to the board beginning its formal superintendent search in March. Postlewait was named one of three finalists for the job last week.

The other two finalists are Lisa Herring, Charleston County deputy superintendent of Academics, and Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of the department of instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools in Ashburn, Va.

The board is filling the Charleston County School District’s top spot after the abrupt resignation of former Superintendent Nancy McGinley last year over her handling of a post-game celebration by Academic Magnet High School’s football team…

Many of the activists questioned whether Postlewait may already be the favored candidate.

“When the time comes I want you to look us in the eye and explain how you could go from meeting secretly one month and having the person be a finalist and then become superintendent ... and that we should accept that from you,” the Rev. Nelson Rivers III told the board.

The Rev. Charles Heyward urged the board to launch a new year-long, national search for a superintendent, saying the current process “can never lead to a healthy school district after it comes to a conclusion.”…

New finalist announced for Charleston County schools superintendent

aheffernan@scbiznews.com Published June 8, 2015

Charleston County School District has selected a new finalist for its slate of candidates to replace former Superintendent Nancy McGinley. 

Terri L. Breeden, an assistant superintendent for Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia joins Lisa N. Herring, deputy superintendent for academics for Charleston County Schools; and Gerrita Postlewait, assistant vice president of testing company ACT as possible replacements for McGinley.

In mid-March, the district announced three finalists — Herring, Postlewait and Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby — but community groups, including the Charleston branch of the NAACP, spoke out against the board’s selection process. A statement from the branch earlier this month called the search “hasty, secretive and dubious.”

Terri Breeden
Breeden has a doctorate of education in school administration from Vanderbilt University, two master’s degrees in education from Vanderbilt and Tennessee State University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Welch College, according to her resume (.pdf). 

She has been an assistant superintendent for the Department of Instruction at Loudoun County Public Schools since 2014. Prior to that she was an assistant superintendent for Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools. Breeden has also served as an executive director of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in Tennessee, a middle school principal, a high school assistant principal and a middle school math teacher.

Lisa Herring
Herring holds a doctorate in education administration from Georgia Southern University as well as a master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s in English from Spelman College, according to her resume (.pdf).

At the Charleston County School District, she has served as deputy superintendent for academics, chief academic officer, associate superintendent and executive director for student support services. Herring was also the director of student support services at the Bibb County School District in Macon, Ga., and previously was assistant director student of support services at the DeKalb County School District in Atlanta.

Gerrita Postlewait
Postlewait holds a doctorate of education administration, a master’s degree in education leadership and a Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia University, according to her resume (.pdf). 

She has served as assistant vice president of ACT in Iowa City, Iowa, for two years. Prior to that she spent seven years as chief K-12 officer at the Stupski Foundation in San Francisco and a decade as superintendent of Horry County Schools in Myrtle Beach. She was superintendent of the Wetzel County School District in West Virginia for six years. 

The district’s board of trustees is finalizing interviewing plans and is expected to announce the schedule on Tuesday.

NAACP blasts search process

Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC) - June 6, 2015 Author/Byline: By amanda kerr akerr@postandcourier.com

Superintendent finalist ‘hand-picked’

Local civil rights leaders renewed their calls for a new superintendent search Friday, questioning the selection of a former Horry County superintendent as a finalist for Charleston’s next schools chief.

The Rev. Nelson Rivers III and Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, said picking Gerrita Postlewait as one of the three finalists for the job confirms their earlier complaint that she was intended to be the choice all along. Scott called her the “hand-picked candidate.”

The school board announced the finalists Thursday.

The furor over the validity of the search and Postlewait allegedly having the inside track has been fanned by school board member Michael Miller’s revelation that several board members met with Postlewait before the search for a superintendent formally began in March.

“It seems our suspicions were justified,” Rivers said.

The other two finalists are Lisa Herring, Charleston County deputy superintendent of Academics, and Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of the department of instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools in Ashburn, Va.

The NAACP and others have touted Herring, who is black, as their choice to replace former Superintendent Nancy McGinley, who resigned under fire in October over her handling of a post-game celebration by Academic Magnet High School’s football team…

Schools chief field down to 3 finalists - Herring, Postlewait, Breeden in running

Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC) - June 5, 2015 Author/Byline: By amanda kerr akerr@postandcourier.com

The Charleston County School Board on Thursday named three finalists for superintendent, choosing a longtime district administrator, a Virginia educator and a candidate likely to be met with skepticism by those who have questioned the integrity of the search.

The finalists to replace former Superintendent Nancy McGinley are Charleston County Deputy Superintendent of Academics Lisa Herring; former Horry County Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait; and Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of the department of instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools in Ashburn, Va.

The 48,000-student district, the second largest in the state, has been led by Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby since McGinley resigned under fire in October over her handling of a racially-charged postgame celebration by Academic Magnet High School’s football team. McGinley, the district’s longest serving superintendent, earned $226,278 in her final year as superintendent.

The search for McGinley’s replacement has drawn criticism from local NAACP leaders, worried that Herring wouldn’t get fair consideration because she’s black, to teachers and community members who complained the board didn’t seek enough public input.

Bobby withdrew from consideration for the post amid the mounting frustration over the search process. Last month, school board member Michael Miller called for the board to start the search over, claiming seven board members met with Postlewait before she was named as a candidate in March. Local clergy and civil rights leaders called for the seven board members to resign. The group has filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office asking for an investigation into whether open meetings laws were violated.

The board completed interviews with nine semifinalists on Tuesday before selecting Herring, Postlewait and Breeden. The board is finalizing interviews for the three and will air the schedules Tuesday, according to the announcement.


School Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats said all three candidates have “amazing resumes” with extensive experience in large, diverse school districts. Each candidate, Coats said, meets the “preferred skill sets and qualities” the board developed based on community input.

“I think we’re in a very good place with candidates who met our pre-existing qualifications. I feel that the focus needs to be on qualifications and skill sets of the leader and realize the board isn’t the most affected party in this, it is the students.”

School Board member Michael Miller maintains the search should have started over, although he said Postlewait is a “strong candidate.”

“I always thought from the beginning the process wasn’t transparent, it wasn’t open and it wasn’t fair to all candidates. It’s unfortunate Dr. Postlewait or any candidate would be caught in this. No matter who the superintendent is, I’m going to have to work with her and we’ve got to still move forward.”

Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, said naming Postlewait a finalist is “an affront” to all the concerns that have been raised surrounding her candidacy…

Terri Breeden

Assistant superintendent of the department of instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools, an 80,000-student school district, since 2014.

Assistant superintendent of professional learning and accountability for Fairfax County Public Schools in northern Virginia from 2009 to 2014.

Assistant superintendent of professional learning and training for Fairfax County Public Schools from 2006 to 2009.

Executive director of grades 5-12 for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools from 2002 to 2006.

Started her career as an elementary school teacher in 1977 before serving as an assistant principal and principal in Nashville, Tenn.

Botetourt official finalist for new post

Roanoke Times, The (VA) - May 2, 2015 Author/Byline: Laurence Hammack

Botetourt County's superintendent of schools is a finalist for the same job in Culpeper County.

{REST} Tony Brads confirmed Friday that he is one of three finalists for the position.

The Culpeper County School Board recently announced that it chose three candidates from a pool of 25 to interview for the job: Brads, Terri Breeden and Marc Bergin, the Culpeper Star-Exponent reported.

Breeden is the assistant superintendent for instruction for Loudoun County Public Schools; Bergin is the deputy superintendent of Moore County Schools in Carthage, North Carolina.

Brads has been superintendent in Botetourt County for the past 10 years.

The Culpeper County School Board has said it would like to have its next superintendent on the job by July 1.

Judge Denies Education Groups' Involvement In Student Data Case

Leesburg Today (VA) - March 18, 2015 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

School employee advocate groups will not be allowed to intervene in a Lansdowne parent’s case to force the state to disclose student testing data, a Richmond City Circuit Court judge has ruled.

The Virginia Education Association and the Loudoun Education Association argue that the release of Student Growth Percentiles that measure student improvement across grade levels could unfairly target specific teachers.

But Judge Melvin R. Hughes Jr. ruled Monday that the organizations lack standing to join the case, state education officials said. He also turned down requests from the Virginia School Boards Association and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents to intervene.

The judge is still considering the Loudoun County School Board’s request to join the case as interveners, as well as the request from Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, filed on behalf of VDOE, to suspend enforcement of the court’s order.

The myriad objections are in response to Hughes’ Jan. 9 letter of opinion stating that the Virginia Department of Education must grant Brian Davison’s request for Loudoun County Public Schools’ SGP scores—which have been collected since 2011—by school and by teacher.

The opinion states that VDOE can produce a report that removes any information that would identify specific students, but it does not object to teachers being identified, which has school employee advocate groups concerned.

“Teachers will be singled out and labeled ineffective,” Dena Rosenkrantz, attorney for the VEA, said in an interview. “There’s no way that one number can sum up how effective a teacher is in teaching our students.”

Loudoun County school administrators have also warned about widely using SGP scores to rank the quality of schools and teachers. The data only tracks students’ progress in math and reading in grades 3-8, and does not account for students who are new to Virginia or have transferred schools, they’ve noted.

Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of Instruction, has described the SGP scores as “a faulty data set.”

“I’d rather use data that doesn’t have so many disclaimers around it," she told School Board members in a February committee meeting.

Davison, who works in business intelligence and software management, says he’s pushed for the release of the information because it will help the public identify ineffective teachers.

“Given that taxpayers are paying teachers’ salaries, particularly teachers making in excess of $130,000 in private sector equivalent pay, I think taxpayers have a right to know,” he said. “If the School Board is aware of ineffective teachers, is it fair to ask a parent to send their kid to his or her class?”

School Board Explores Options For Girls Field Hockey Program

Leesburg Today (VA) - March 11, 2015 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler

Loudoun County School Board members are considering the addition of girls field hockey to its varsity sports offerings, but the players may have to get creative to pay for the program.

A group of parents in December submitted an application to create field hockey teams at each of the county’s 15 high schools this fall. After looking into the interest level and the potential cost of a new sports program, school system senior staff members recommended to the board Tuesday that it consider adopting starting the program but not until fall of 2016.

“At this point the game schedule is pretty much set for fall 2015,” Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of Instruction, said.

Plus, a field hockey program could require as much as $570,000 in start-up costs—a significant line item to be added to next fiscal year’s spending plan this late in budget negotiations.

But during their meeting, board members suggested an option that would allow girls field hockey to be adopted as an official varsity sport as early as this fall at no cost to the school division…

UPDATE: Loudoun School Board Enters Legal Fight To Oppose Disclosure Of Teacher Information

Leesburg Today (VA) - February 12, 2015 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

Educators and state officials are lining up to sign on to a lawsuit to oppose the release of student testing data that they say could unfairly target Loudoun teachers.

After a vote following a closed session Tuesday, the Loudoun County School Board Wednesday filed a petition to intervene in the case of Lansdowne parent Brian Davison versus the Virginia Department of Education.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, on behalf of VDOE, has filed a motion to suspend enforcement of the court’s order. The Loudoun Education Association, Virginia Education Association and several teachers also have signed on as formal interveners in the case.

The slew of objections are in response to a Jan. 9 letter of opinion from a Richmond City Circuit Court judge stating that VDOE must grant Davison’s request for Loudoun County Public Schools’ Student Growth Percentile scores—which have been collected since 2011—by school and by teacher.

VDOE posts Standards of Learning exam pass rates on its public website, but does not post SGP scores. The SGP data are available to school administrators through a secure web portal.

While SOL scores indicate whether a student has achieved minimum proficiency in a given subject, the SGP data illustrates the progress a student has made relative to the progress of students with similar achievement based on reading and mathematics SOL exams, according to a VDOE description…

Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of Instruction, described the SPG scores as “a faulty data set.” During a recent Instruction and Curriculum Committee meeting, she rattled off a lengthy list of measures the information does not track, such as students’ progress in social studies and science and special education students who take alternative SOL exams.

“So you’d be evaluating teachers based on this much data,” Breeden said holding her fingers an inch a part.

Before taking a job in Loudoun last year, Breeden oversaw teacher evaluations and student accountability in Fairfax County Public Schools, where she said, “We were cautioned repeatedly to not use the SPG data unless we felt it was a good data set. Well, it’s not.”

For the 20 percent of teachers’ evaluations that is based on students’ academic growth, Breeden said, “I’d rather use data that doesn’t have so many disclaimers around it.”…

School Leaders Debate Merits Of Full-Day Kindergarten For At-Risk Students

Leesburg Today (VA) - January 22, 2015 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

On a Friday morning, kindergartners’ eyes were glued to a counting music video on the classroom smart board. With each set of 10, the song instructed the youngsters to count while trying out a new dance move. With arms waving and feet marching, the 5-year-olds counted to 100.

A minute later, they were rattling off the sounds each of the 26 letters makes. And five minutes after that, they were plopped down on a colorful carpet listening to teacher Lore Keen read a book.

“We have to pack a lot in three hours,” Frances Hazel Reid Elementary Principal Brenda Jochems said of the half-day kindergarten classes.

Loudoun County Public Schools is one of three school systems in Virginia that does not provide a full-day program for every kindergartener. School administrators have projected it would cost $52 million to build enough classroom space to accommodate universal full-day kindergarten in the county.

But a proposal from Superintendent Eric Williams that would give 1,875 out of the school district’s 5,000 kindergarteners access to a full-day program for a much smaller price tag has prompted a local conversation about the merits of a longer school day at such a young age…

During a Jan. 13 budget work session, School Board members Debbie Rose (Algonkian) and Fox asked Williams and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Terri Breeden for data that would show whether Loudoun’s ELL kindergartners who are in school six hours a day go on to be more successful in school compared with those who attend for half of that time.

“This is meant to justify why we should do this going forward,” Rose said.

Those stats at a local level are not easy to come by, Breeden told them. Loudoun first started offering full-day kindergarten to its most academically at-risk population just a few years ago, so those students are now only in second grade and will not take a Standards of Learning assessment until next year.

“So because we don’t have that we have to look at national research,” she said. “With ELL children, being in school all day long has proven more effective. Just like learning any new language, with more early intervention, the language is easier to pick up at a younger age.”

Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) agreed with Breeden but said the more important point is that 25 percent of the county’s most needy kindergartners are in school for half the day and not receiving any remedial services. “Which means when they enter first grade they are at a huge disadvantage. That’s the problem that this addresses,” he said. “There’s no way any of you can tell me it would be better if those kids were at home to learn English. Research for language acquisition doesn’t show that.” …

A full-day program would provide time to work more on language development, math and science, as well as more on project-based learning, she added. “You can cover so much more material in a full-day program. I feel it’s important for all kindergartners, particularly for those in the underserved population.”

The School Board will hold a final public hearing on the superintendent’s proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22. The board is expected to adopt a budget Jan. 29.

Making The Grades: Concerns Raised About New LCHS Policy

Leesburg Today (VA) - December 4, 2014  Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

Loudoun County High School parents have raised concerns about a grading practice they say holds their children to a higher standard than students face at other high schools in the county.

Under the leadership of new principal Michelle Luttrell, the high school adopted a 100 percent summative grading practice. This means students’ homework and classwork are not factored into their final grade, according to the school’s website. Instead, “summative assessments” such as tests, quizzes and projects, make up the final grade.

John Dalesandro and Dan Loper, who both have children at the Leesburg school, believe the practice puts their students at an unfair disadvantage compared with students at other Loudoun high schools that include homework and class participation in the calculation of final grades.

“I’m fine with students being graded this way, but then all the schools should do it this way,” Dalesandro said. “We were told at the beginning at the school year that County was going to start 100 percent summative grading. What they didn’t tell us was that we’re the only school that’s holding their kids to this higher standard.”

He and Loper shared their concerns at a School Board meeting last month.

Nereida Gonzalez-Sales, director of Loudoun’s high school instruction, acknowledged that the grading practices may be different among the county’s 14 high schools but said she could not confirm how many calculate homework and class participation in final grades.

“I couldn’t tell you right now. That conversation is beginning right now,” she said.

She noted that most administrators in the Instruction and Curriculum Department’s top tier positions are new, including her, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Terri Breeden and Superintendent Eric Williams. …

Whether homework and class participation are used only to prepare students for exams or whether they are factored into the final course grade, Gonzalez-Sales said it would not cause huge disparagements among students’ grades. “Even if homework is graded, it makes up such a small percentage of their final grade.”

Williams Outlines Phased Approach To Expand Full-Day Kindergarten

Leesburg Today (VA) - December 2, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

A $52 million hurdle.

That’s the hefty price tag cited in recent years to build enough classroom space to send every one of Loudoun’s 5,000 kindergartners to school for a full-day program.

But School Board members heard during a work session Monday about an incremental, and much less expensive, option that would extend full-day kindergarten to a total of 1,600 students next school year.

Thirty-one elementary school buildings throughout the county likely have space to provide 43 classrooms of kindergartners a full, six-hour school day. Nine of the county’s 55 elementary schools already house extended kindergarten programs.

For an estimated $3.45 million, the school district could hire the needed 20.5 full-time equivalent teachers and 20.5 teacher assistants, as well as eight specialist teachers, to make it happen.

“This is a measured potential step forward,” Superintendent Eric Williams said. He stressed that, at this point, he wanted to simply gauge board members’ interest.

The presentation comes after state lawmakers and local families have increased pressure on school leaders to craft a plan to provide more students with full-day kindergarten. Loudoun, touted as one of the nation’s wealthiest counties, is one of only three school districts in Virginia that does not have universal full-day kindergarten…

Williams told board members, if they want to avoid constructing more classrooms and the cost that comes with it—identified in past years as the largest obstacle to providing full-day kindergarten to all students—it will need to decide whether “homogenous grouping” is preferable to first providing full-day kindergarten to ELL and low-income students.

“We could expand just as many classrooms but not give preference to the at-risk population,” he said.

Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of instruction, stressed that it is those students who most need more time in the classroom. “I would hate to not serve our neediest students,” she said, and called this model a phased in approach until all schools could house full-day kindergarten programs.

Others asked whether there was much proof that extending kindergartners’ time in school really makes a lasting impact. Bill Fox (Leesburg) said he was “tentatively on board” with the model, but wanted data that showed that high school seniors who were in full-day kindergarten are more successful than those who were not…

State Panel Recommends More Flexibility, Funding To Assess Student Success

Arlington Sun Gazette (Merrifield, VA) - December 1, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

The panel tasked with revamping how Virginia measures student success has released its list of a dozen recommendations directing the General Assembly to give school districts more flexibility in how they assess students and more funding to do it.

The governor’s Standards of Learning (SOL) Innovation Committee, made up of educators, advocates, legislators of both parties and business leaders, has been working since July to craft a series of recommendations aimed at reforming the current assessment system. And Loudoun County has had a seat at the table with Terri Breeden, Loudoun public schools’ assistant superintendent of instruction, and Del. Tag Greason (R-32), who represents Ashburn in the General Assembly, on the SOL Innovation Committee.

The committee is recommending legislation and funding to give school divisions incentives to identify alternative ways for students to accrue standard credits outside of the traditional seat time requirements.

The committee also suggests that the state’s content standards be revised to be “fewer and deeper” and emphasize essential skills needed for success in “college, career, and citizenship.”…

The SOL Innovation Committee, formed after bipartisan legislation passed by the 2013 General Assembly, is expected to make more recommendations next year.

Average SAT Scores Up In Loudoun

Leesburg Today (VA) - October 13, 2014

Loudoun County Public Schools’ cumulative score on the SAT rose five points this year, according to data released by the College Board.

The average score among Loudoun students was 1,611, up from 1,606 in 2013. Scores rose in critical reading by four points and mathematics by two points, while dropping in writing by one point. Loudoun’s average score continues to be well above Virginia and national averages of 1,520 and 1,471, respectively.

Participation in the exams also was up this year by 81 students—3,536 LCPS students took the SAT this year compared with 3455 in 2013.

“We are pleased the number of students taking the SAT increased and that scores in critical reading and mathematics also increased,” Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Terri Breeden stated. “LCPS’s students are positioned to be very competitive in the college admissions process due to exceeding the Virginia and national means.”

Statewide, the critical reading score rose by three points this year; the math score is up one point; and the writing score down a point. Nationally, the critical reading score was unchanged from 2013, while math and writing scores both dropped by two points.

Schools Reassess Staffing Cuts Made Under Budget Pressure

Leesburg Today (VA) - September 24, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

Three weeks into the new school year, the School Board is taking a closer look at the impact of cuts made during last spring’s budget season. A scaled-down staffing framework has given students less access to libraries and computer labs and has some principals and teachers chipping in to dish up lunch in the cafeteria.

As it looked for savings from its initial $950 million budget, the board voted to restructure its staffing model to assign fewer employees to smaller schools. That’s translated to one dean instead of three for seven middle schools with fewer than 1,100 students, no library assistants or technology assistants for the seven elementary schools that have fewer than 300 students and no administrative interns for the 42 elementary schools with fewer than 800 students.

The impact of those changes was the topic of discussion during last week’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee. School Board members sat around a long conference table with school district administrators, school principals and an elementary school parent and asked: “So, how is it going?”

Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), School Board vice chairman and chair of the committee, said she’s heard concerns from the small school communities about their shrinking staff size, a decision that “on paper made sense—fewer students, fewer staff—but practically doesn’t always work.”

“Now we’re looking at this with a holistic view, which I don’t think was done during the budget process,” she said.

The new staffing framework, proposed by Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), was adopted with the hope of not only saving money, but also balancing the level of service provided to the county’s 73,233 students. As it was, a similar number of library assistants, technology assistants and administrative interns were assigned to elementary schools with more than 1,400 students and elementary schools with fewer than 600 students.

“This is new. We want to know, did we hit the right numbers,” Assistant Superintendent Terri Breeden said. “I don’t think we’re going to say we’re smart enough to hit it smack on in the first try.”

For the county’s smallest elementary schools, fewer employees has meant students only have access to the library two-and-a-half days a week, and that the cafeteria now has just one assigned employee.…

Title I Schools Boast Gains On State Exams

Leesburg Today (VA) - September 23, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

News released last week by the Virginia Department of Education has principals at three Sterling schools smiling.

Three of Loudoun’s Title 1 schools—Guilford, Rolling Ridge, and Sugarland elementary schools—improved test scores enough to drop the “focus school” label. The designation as focus schools over the last two years required them to employ an outside school improvement coach to help boost scores.

Along with required changes, the schools also embraced a new teaching model that focused on team-teaching, in-house research and more time each day reinforcing lessons for those students who need it.

“We are so proud of the students, parents, teachers, and principals of Guilford, Rolling Ridge, and Sugarland,” Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Terri Breeden said. “Raising achievement and ensuring all students meet the benchmark is challenging, but through their collective efforts they were successful and we celebrate them.”

The percentage of Rolling Ridge students meeting proficient math scores on Standards of Learning tests in third through fifth grade jumped 11 points from 2012-2013 to 2013-14. English scores rose eight points in that time at Guilford and Sugarland. Sugarland students’ math scores ticked up 15 points between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, while Guilford students’ gained 12 percentage points.

In a statement, Loudoun Superintendent Eric Williams said he was pleased with the progress but stressed the importance of not overemphasizing scores on state exams.

“The SOL scores that play a key role in accreditation are just one part of measuring student achievement,” he said. “We want our students to perform well on state exams, but we also want them to demonstrate a mastery of content and competencies that will serve them well in life after high school.”

Advocates Begin Public Outreach For Academies Of Loudoun

Leesburg Today (VA) - September 8, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

In fewer than 60 days, voters will be asked to support a bond referendum that includes $115.12 million for the construction of the Academies of Loudoun. And school and county leaders are working to spread the word about the details of the project.

The push to get public buy-in for the project was the focus of the Joint Board of Supervisors-School Board Committee meeting last Thursday. Members of the Citizen Volunteer Workgroup told the committee that they’re holding meetings with parent teacher organizations, principals and students throughout the county to promote the project.

“This is not your mom’s CTE program,” Terri Breeden, Loudoun’s new assistant superintendent of instruction, told members of the joint committee last week. “This is something very, very special.”

The Academies of Loudoun is slated to be built on a 119-acre site along Sycolin Road, with plans to open in 2018. The new facility will combine expanded versions of the existing Academy of Science and C.S. Monroe Technology Center, as well as a new Academy of Engineering and Technology…

School Superintendent Gives Early Budget Outlook

Leesburg Today (VA) - August 18, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

Terri Breeden, the county’s new head of instruction, said it best. While explaining the school district’s staffing model to the Loudoun County School Board, she noted “this information will be helpful with the budget season on its way.”

Then she looked around the boardroom at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and said, “Oh my gosh, it’s here.”

After wrapping up a tumultuous budget season in April, school leaders vowed to start putting the scaffolding for their next budget together months earlier. Almost a full year before the start of the next fiscal year, they’re already making good on that promise.

During the board’s second FY16 budget work session Thursday, Superintendent Eric Williams, who’s been on the job six weeks, revealed a long list of budget estimates—projecting enrollment, expenditures and revenue increases—that help paint an early picture of what it will cost to operate the county’s public schools in the next fiscal year….

SOL Reform Committee Includes Loudoun Assistant Superintendent

Leesburg Today (VA) - July 7, 2014 Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

Loudoun County will have a seat at the table as the state explores how to improve the way it measure’s school success.

Terri Breeden, Loudoun’s newly appointed assistant superintendent of instruction, is one of 30 individuals appointed by Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton to the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee.

Breeden oversaw testing for Fairfax County Public Schools as assistant superintendent for professional learning and accountability before she was hired to oversee instruction in Loudoun's public school system. She began her new role in Loudoun July 1.

The Standards of Learning Innovation Committee was formed as part of SOL reform legislation signed into law last month and is tasked with making recommendations to the Board of Education and the General Assembly on ways to improve SOL assessments, student growth measures and encourage innovative teaching in the classroom.

The new SOL reform law also promises 23 percent fewer exams for students in grades three through eight and an overhauled test system that moves away from multiple choice and toward questions that will better test students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills…

McAuliffe Administration Announces SOL Innovation Committee Members

Targeted News Service (USA) - June 30, 2014

RICHMOND, Va., June 30 -- Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., issued the following news release:

Today, the McAuliffe Administration announced the members and first meeting date for Virginia's Standards of Learning Innovation Committee.

Building on the work that began with legislation passed during the 2014 General Assembly Session, the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee will take a comprehensive look at Virginia's Standards of Learning system. After an exhaustive review of stakeholder recommendations and applications, the Committee members were selected by Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton. They will be charged with making recommendations to the Board of Education and the General Assembly on ways to further reform SOL assessments, student growth measures, and encourage innovative teaching in the classroom….

The first meeting of the Committee will be held in Richmond on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

Members of the Committee…

Terri Breeden of Fairfax, Assistant Superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools…

Loudoun School Board Names New Superintendent of Instruction

Leesburg Today (VA) - June 11, 2014  Author/Byline: Danielle Nadler Leesburg Today

Terri Breeden will be Loudoun County’s next assistant superintendent for instruction following Sharon Ackerman, who retires this month after 15 years in the position.

The appointment is another major element in the transition of leadership in the school system, with Edgar B. Hatrick retiring June 30 after 23 years as superintendent.

Breeden will come to the Loudoun school system from Fairfax County Public Schools where she serves as assistant superintendent for professional learning and accountability. Loudoun’s incoming Superintendent Eric Williams selected Breeden for the position—arguably the second most influential in the school system—and the School Board approved the hire during its meeting last night.

“We’re very, very excited to bring your experience and your knowledge on board with Loudoun County,” School Board member Bill Fox (Leesburg) said. “ So welcome.”

Breeden has more than 30 years of experience in education, 12 of which have been in the classroom teaching first through eighth grades. She’s served as an elementary teacher in a private school in Nashville, TN; as a math teacher at East Middle School; mathematics program specialist; assistant principal for Hillsboro Comprehensive High School; principal of John Trotwood Moore Middle School and executive director grades 1-5, all for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

In 2006, she moved to Fairfax County where she’s served as the school system’s assistant superintendent for professional learning and training and now as assistant superintendent for professional learning and accountability.

Breeden begins her role July 1, along with Williams.

County Students Score Well on Innovative International Test

Fairfax Sun Gazette (VA) (Published as Great Falls - McLean - Oakton - Vienna Sun Gazette (VA)) - March 25, 2013 

Students at 10 Fairfax County high schools performed better than the U.S. average on 2012 tests that also compared schools from Canada and the United Kingdom, school officials said March 21.

The test results will help county school officials develop better means of educating students so they can thrive in the global economy, said Superintendent Jack Dale.

“We’ve got to prepare our kids for the world,” Dale said.

Principals at 10 Fairfax County schools agreed to allow 15-year-old students to participate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Pilot Trial…

PISA tests usually cost $250 per student to produce and score and students usually receive $25 apiece for participating. But under the pilot tests, Fairfax County schools did not have to pay to participate and students did not receive compensation, officials said.

School officials did not cherry-pick the cream of the crop to take the two-hour-long tests, said Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent for professional learning and accountability. Instead, testing company McGraw-Hill chose which students would participate.

Students answered 141 questions measuring their knowledge of reading, math and science and provided additional information about their socio-economic circumstances…
To examine the results in detail, visit http://www.fcps.edu/pla/ost/_pisa/pisa_index.shtml.

MCA Resolution Asks School Board to Revamp Auditing Efforts

Fairfax Sun Gazette (VA) (Published as Great Falls - McLean - Oakton - Vienna Sun Gazette (VA)) - November 9, 2012

Because Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) receives 52.2 percent of the county’s disbursements, School Board members should take steps to improve the independence and expertise of the school system’s auditing efforts, members of the McLean Citizens Association’s (MCA) board of directors said Nov. 7.

The MCA board passed a resolution calling on the School Board to add at least two more community representatives to the School Board Audit Committee, provided that the new members qualify as financial experts under standards defined by the Government Finance Officers Association. The new representatives also should be independent of the school system’s management, MCA members said…

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Office of Internal Audit does not examine the school system’s policies, funding, staffing and other resources to ensure they are being implemented according to the School Board’s intent, MCA members said.

Those duties instead fall to the school system’s Department of Professional Learning and Accountability, which is led by Assistant Superintendent Terri Breeden.

If the School Board establishes an Office of Financial and Program Audit, it should be directed by an independent auditor, whom voting audit committee members would hire and evaluate, MCA members said.

The new office would “go beyond due diligence and look more closely at programs within the school system, make sure the money is being spent on the programs, and that the programs are what the School Board thought they would be and are effective,” said Louise Epstein, MCA’s recording secretary.

But Jane Strauss, the School Board’s Dranesville District representative, said the board already has an independent audit committee, which she chairs, and that the group has hired Theresa Weatherman to serve as the board’s auditor. The auditor operates independently from the superintendent and the rest of the school system, she said.

The whole School Board examines student achievement, but the board’s audit committee examines financial matters and business processes, Strauss said. She defended the presence of staff members on the committee, saying they needed to keep informed in order to implement changes….

Russo to pursue SOL proposal

Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) - August 18, 2011

Henrico County schools Superintendent Patrick J. Russo is not giving up on a plan to change the way Virginia Standards of Learning assessments are administered, even though the initial idea was quelled by state education officials.

In a letter dated Aug. 1, state Board of Education President Eleanor B. Saslaw wrote that the proposal submitted by Russo and his colleagues in the city of Virginia Beach and Albemarle, Fairfax and Roanoke counties will not be included on the agenda for the state board's meeting next month and she sees nothing to be gained, at this point, from further committee-level discussion.

The five superintendents, who collectively oversee about 30 percent of the state's student population, want the flexibility to administer the tests to high-achieving students earlier in the school year as well as the ability to give students who don't pass it the opportunity to take the test again.

"While all Board members are open to new ideas on assessment and flexibility, none believes that the Board's questions about the proposal have been addressed with sufficient detail," Saslaw wrote.

Russo said the school systems will seek more comment on the proposal from staff and parents to gauge support for the plan. State board members believe teachers should be included as well.

He stressed in a phone interview Wednesday that the proposal is a pilot program, which would begin on a small scale to determine whether it makes a difference and affects students' ability to master a subject versus taking a test just once.

The superintendents said in May that the flexibility would allow students to show proficiency earlier in the school year and move on to focus on subject areas for the remainder of the year.

Teachers then would be able to focus on helping students who fail the test prepare better for the retest and improve performance.

"I was very surprised that we got not even a small pilot," Fairfax County Assistant Superintendent Terri Breeden told The Washington Post. "If you can't even begin with a small group, that's disheartening."

Saslaw's letter came 10 days before Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright called for an overhaul to the federal No Child Left Behind Act after fewer Virginia schools met or exceeded Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks based on the 2010-11 SOL testing.

On the heels of Wright's call to change the federal law, Russo said flexibility in when tests are administered and the ability to retest should be part of that reform.

However, questions remain about the specifics of the proposal, Saslaw wrote, noting that oral and written responses from the superintendents "lacked the practical details" needed to alleviate the board's concerns about unintended consequences and the potential impact multiple testing may have on instruction for students who fail early tests….

Williamson County School Head Search taking a mulligan

Nashville Examiner (TN) - May 14, 2009 Author/Byline: Truman Bean

I am not a big fan of paying search committees to do the job that managers and elected officials have under their charge. They tend to just provide the cover for the ones in charge, who already have a particular individual in mind. Like Sands Through the Hour Glass -- So Is the Williamson County School Board from Brentwood Watchdog

School board to try again to find superintendent

By Carole Robinson, Staff Writer

After going through the process of searching for a superintendent since last October, the Williamson County Board of Education decided Monday night to do it again, giving Ray & Associates another chance by extending the contract 45 days in the hope the district will have a superintendent before the start of the new school year.

The board also invited interim superintendent Dr. David Heath to apply for the position this time. In the first go-round the search committee made an informal request that Heath not apply, according to Search Committee Chair Terry Leve. “The request was made because of concern that it would discourage applicants if they thought it was a foregone conclusion that he was going to be chosen and we were just going through an exercise,” Leve said. “He honored that request.”

Although board members did not dispute the quality of finalists Dr. Terri Breeden of Vienna, Va. and Dr. Bret Jimerson of Grand Prairie, Texas, during the discussion, several said their lack of high-level leadership experience was “troublesome.”

“I don’t want to start with a rookie,” said Board Member Gary Anderson after making a motion to “not select either of the two finalists,” just moments into the meeting. Anderson’s motion did not garner the votes to pass, but after further discussion, in which some members expressed interest in exploring both candidates further, a similar motion 15 minutes later could not get the necessary seven votes to continue discussions with either candidate, thus ending that search and prompting another......

Down to 2 Candidates for Williamson County's Top Education CEO

Nashville Examiner (TN) - May 1, 2009 Author/Byline: Truman Bean

A very important county wide office that is getting little attention from Williamson County Media, and to be fair, the blogging community.

Two candidates left for schools director position

FRANKLIN— Two candidates remain in the search for the county's next director of schools.

The school board voted Thursday night to invite Terri Breeden of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and Bret Jimerson of Grand Prairie Independent Schools in Texas back for more interviews with parents, staff and students.

A third candidate, retired Boone County Schools Superintendent Brian Blavatt, was eliminated. Breeden, who lived in Williamson County for some time and worked in Metro Nashville Schools, was hailed as a bright and knowledgeable candidate. Jimerson, who has multiple advance degrees, impressed board members with his love of learning. The candidates return Thursday and Friday for full days of tours, meetings and receptions. The public is invited to the receptions that will be held at Centennial High School. Times will be released later.

115 Principals May Soon Retire - Sixty percent of the school system's principals will be eligible for retirement in five years.

Burke Connection, The (VA) - August 10, 2006

As principal of Halley Elementary School in Fairfax Station, Janet Funk has led the school since its opening in 1996 and has mentored seven other Fairfax County elementary school principals.…

Funk is among 115 principals in the Fairfax County school system who will be eligible for retirement within the next five years.

In a school system with 194 principals, that could mean that 60 percent of the county's school leaders will soon need replacements….

Kevin North, the school system's assistant superintendent for human resources, said the spike in retirement eligibility has been underway for the past few years. As 2011 approaches, they expect between 19 and 23 principals will step down each year.

"Being a principal is a tough job," North said. "They have to deal with a lot of constituencies and they have to keep a lot of balls in the air at all times."

Principals can have a profound impact on student achievement, said Richard Flanary, director of professional development services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals in Reston.

"There's a growing body of evidence that shows that the principal's role is significant," Flanary said. "They have a substantive impact on achievement within a school."…

THE COUNTY'S aging school leadership is part of a wider trend, as the baby boom generation across the nation finds itself on the cusp of retirement.

According to a March 2006 demographics report, Fairfax County will be home to more than 160,000 residents over the age of 60 by the end of the decade - an increase of 44 percent over the 2000 census….

In April, the school system hired Terri Breeden - a former school administrator from Nashville - to head up its newly created Department of Professional Learning and Training. A chief responsibility of the new department will be to identify and nurture future leaders, Dale said.

Fairfax Schools...

Arlington Sun Gazette (Merrifield, VA) - May 11, 2006

News of the achievement of local students and members of the Armed Forces:

* The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has named 32 Fairfax County Public Schools students winners of $2,500 National Merit Scholarships….

* The Fairfax County School Board has appointed Terri Breeden as the school system's new assistant superintendent of the Department of Professional Learning and Training. Breeden's appointment will be effective May 22.

Breeden most recently served as executive director, grades 5-12, for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. She previously served as a principal, an assistant principal, a mathematics program assistant, and a math teacher in Nashville.

 Dr. Terri Breeden & FCPS Principals Discuss the ... - YouTube

Jun 2, 2015 - Fairfax County Public Schools (Virginia) Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Terri Breeden is joined by some FCPS ...

 Terri Breeden, Fayette Schools superintendent ... - YouTube

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Terry Breeden @ Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=304500308&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=x7Bu&locale=en_US&srchid=575444621435323521963&srchindex=5&srchtotal=5&trk=vsrp_people_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A575444621435323521963%2CVSRPtargetId%3A304500308%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary%2CVSRPnm%3Atrue