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.