The search for Fayette County's new school superintendent is down to three finalists, and this week each will get a full day to impress the school board and the Lexington community face-to-face.
Jessamine County superintendent Lu Young will visit Tuesday. Daviess County superintendent Tom Shelton comes to town Wednesday. Clark County superintendent Elaine Farris visits Thursday.
Each will face a grueling 14-hour-plus round of activities including interviews with school board members; a tour of the school district; and meetings with stakeholder and community groups, the public and the press — all intended to let candidates make their cases and allow board members and the community to assess what each finalist's strengths or weaknesses might be.
"We look forward to the interview process and the opportunity for the candidates to interact with our community," Fayette County School Board chairman John Price said. "The full day of meetings ... will allow us to learn more about each of them and evaluate their performance in order to find the right superintendent to move our district forward for kids.
To ensure fairness, each day's schedule will be identical.
It will begin with a 7 a.m. formal greeting by school board members at United Way of the Bluegrass offices, followed by a breakfast meeting with community leaders and then a tour of the district.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., there will be meetings with senior school district administrators, principals, parents, students, teachers and classified employees, then a news conference at 3 p.m. at the district's central office, 701 East Main Street. The news conferences will air live on the district's cable TV Channel 13 and be replayed at 11:30 that night and 11 a.m. the next day.
An open public forum at 5:30 p.m. each day at central office's Norsworthy Auditorium will give residents a chance to see each candidate and hear them answer questions. Lexingtonians may submit questions they'd like the finalists to answer (see box on page A3 for details).
For those who can't attend the forums, the district will videotape and air each on on its cable TV channel at 7 p.m. the day it happens and at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the following day.
Each day's schedule ends with a 6:30 p.m. private dinner with school board members, followed by a two-hour closed interview with the board that should end about 9:30 p.m.
Community members may tell school board members what they think of the finalists by emailing comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Price says the process has been designed to give as many people as possible a chance to see the finalists and hear what they have to say.
When the candidate visits are over, board members will meet at 7 a.m. Friday to begin final deliberations on selecting a superintendent to succeed Stu Silberman.
Board members want to meet early so their impressions of the candidates will be fresh in their minds, according to school district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall.
"Presumably, they will make a final decision, but how long that might take I don't know," she said.
Once a decision is made, and someone accepts the job, various contractual details, including the new superintendent's pay, probably would have to be worked out before an announcement is made, Deffendall said.