Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Leadership Matters

New FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk began his work in the district this week by filling a number of leadership positions in the districts' schools. Having no time to waste, Caulk turned to a number of FCPS veterans to staff school vacancies on an interim basis. Retired principals Debbie Tronzo, Jane Gettler, Barbara Albaugh, Jock Gum, Larry Donathan, Jane Dreidame, and Vicky Mundy answered the call along with a few promising young'uns, including Carl Hayden.

In addition, Caulk is also missing a number of key staffers (about 8 or 9, as I recall) at the district office. He will be challenged to pull together a solid team in a hurry. Perhaps this helps to explain why the first administrative meeting of the year was called "chaos" by one principal.
FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk

Typically, a superintendent has a host of support staff around to handle preparations for various aspects of district leadership meetings. Caulk has a skeleton crew, and it apparently showed - at least, I hope that's the explanation. The principal reported that early indications were "more of the same," a reference to the laissez-faire leadership shown by former Superintendent Tom Shelton which led to long-standing administrative problems being unaddressed, important questions from principals being left unanswered, and a toxic work climate. Unfortunately, in his first meeting, Caulk showed elements of being overwhelmed.

Is Manny in over his head? Let's hope not. But time will ultimately tell.

Despite several strong arguments in favor of his selection (which no doubt included the Board's calculation that selecting the districts first permanent African American Superintendent would cause the NAACP to stand down) as much as anything else, Fayette County needs Caulk to be a competent, well-organized, and insightful manager, who focuses on reestablishing FCPS as the well-run district it has traditionally been, and I wish him well in that endeavor. But in the end, and as trite as the statement has become, it is about the kids, not Manny. Poor management has eroded the perception of what was once the state's flagship district. The most important contribution Caulk could make would be to assure that his vision, and that of the Board, is well-communicated, and implemented throughout the district in an efficient and competent fashion.

The district does not need a superman. The district needs a superintendent.

  New interim principal announced for Bryan Station High School; changes in other administrative posts

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/08/07/3979050/new-interim-principal-announced.html#storylink=cpy
This from the Herald-Leader:
Five days into his tenure as Fayette County Schools superintendent, Manny Caulk is filling open positions and naming new principals as a start to closing the district's achievement gap.
"Leadership matters," Caulk said.
Among the schools that have new leaders is Bryan Station High School, which the state has labeled as persistently low-achieving. Principal Mike Henderson and an associate principal at the school recently retired, leaving open positions.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has said Fayette County Public Schools must close the achievement gap between minority, disabled and poor students and other students, or face state action.

Specifically, state education officials have said that Fayette County has not given Bryan Station enough support.

But the district has many low-performing schools, and during the recent redistricting process, parents balked at having their children reassigned to struggling schools.

"Having the right leaders in place is just the beginning," Caulk said. "We need a transformation plan, and that starts with great leadership. We have partners from the state Department of Education to help with technical assistance, and our district is committed to providing the resources, systems and structures to meet our moral imperative to prepare every student to excel in college, career and life."

Caulk said the process of filling the open leadership positions has been a learning experience.

"The bottom line is student success," Caulk said. "It's imperative that we accelerate the closing of the achievement gap, and I'm already beginning to see that in urban districts like we have here in Fayette County, superintendents need a different set of tools and strategies in order to take swift and decisive action to support our high-asset schools."

James McMillin, who has been associate principal at Tates Creek Middle School for the past three years, has been appointed interim principal at Bryan Station High School, officials said in a news release Friday night. Carl Hayden, who has been administrative dean at Carter G. Woodson Academy for two years, will be interim associate principal at Bryan Station.

They will join Fred Snodgrass, who became administrative dean at Bryan Station last month, and retired principal Debbie Tronzo, who served as acting principal at Bryan Station over the summer. Tronzo will remain at Bryan Station in a leadership coaching position "to help ensure the new team has every opportunity to succeed," the news release said.

Other changes Caulk announced Friday include selecting Wade Stanfield as interim principal at Eastside Technical Center. Stanfield was principal at Lexington Traditional Magnet School last year. LTMS associate principal Danita Johnson will serve as Tates Creek Middle School interim associate principal, filling the vacancy created by McMillin's departure.

A team of retired principals will lead Lexington Traditional Magnet School. Jane Dreidame (retired Southern Middle principal) and Jock Gum (retired Morton Middle principal) will share responsibilities as interim principal. Retired Edythe J. Hayes Middle School principal Vicki Mundy will step in as interim associate principal.

Other new principals named for the 2015-16 school year include:
■ Cardinal Valley Elementary: Larry Donithan, interim;
■ Garden Springs Elementary: Joey Sheroan;
■ Meadowthorpe Elementary: Barbara Albaugh and Jane Gettler, co-interims;
■ New elementary on Georgetown Road: Shamiah Ford;
■ New elementary in Hamburg: Sarah Woodford;
■ Russell Cave Elementary: Amber Catron;
■ The Learning Center at Linlee: Chris Salyers, interim.

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