On Thursday, a public engagement firm will meet with Fayette County middle and high school students to ask them how they should be included in the search for a new superintendent.
Students are just one of several groups whose ideas will be solicited with the help of the Virginia-based firm called K12 Insight. Mayor Jim Gray, the Urban County Council and people from all parts of the school district will be asked to weigh in as well.
School board Chairman John Price said the meeting with the students "will be just the beginning of a comprehensive effort to hear from all of our middle and high school students, as well as our employees, our families, and other community members."
Students as well as Gray and an Equity Council member had asked to be on the district's superintendent search screening committee, but Price said legal counsel told him that state law allows for only a set number of people representing specific groups.
Gray in a statement Wednesday night thanked Price "for working on a way we can be involved."
"Choosing a new superintendent is just about the most important task we have before us as a city right now," Gray said. "A well-educated workforce makes it possible for Lexington to attract and grow quality jobs essential to maintaining our quality of life."
Tom Shelton resigned as Fayette Schools superintendent effective Dec. 31 to become executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. Marlene Helm is serving as an interim superintendent. The school board wants to hire a new superintendent by July but will wait until K12 Insight finishes its profile before seeking applications. That could happen in mid-March, Price said.
The profile will compile characteristics of the district and what the public wants in a superintendent.
K12 Insight has helped other school districts in the superintendent search process, and it signed a three-year contract last year with the Fayette district to help survey groups about other issues. The contract ranges between $136,000 and $152,000 in each of the three years. K12 Insight officials told board members Wednesday night they could help get ideas on what the public wants in a superintendent at no additional cost.
There will be forums, small-group discussions, surveys, and written input forms. K12 Insight "will help us reach a lot more people," Price said.
The board wants to give everyone who wants the opportunity a chance to offer views on the superintendent search, Price said. Some listening sessions are expected to be held for employees at various Lexington businesses.
Meanwhile, the board is looking for a superintendent search firm. The school board will meet Jan. 31 to review applications and decide how to proceed.