The owner of Waffle Houses, a UPS package handler and a former school superintendent are among nine candidates vying for the vacant seat on the Fayette County Public Schools board.
Also in the field are a Lexington attorney, a retired CEO, a semi-retired investor, a communications director, the associate director of the Governor Scholars Program and a former associate federal prison warden who also taught at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt will make the appointment to the 3rd District seat that has been vacant since school board chairman John Price died of leukemia in February. Pruitt will receive a recommendation from a panel that will interview the candidates May 17, said Nancy Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.
Under state law, Pruitt must appoint someone to fill the vacant spot within 90 days. The appointment is through the end of the year, which would have been the end of Price’s term. The next four-year term will be filled in the November general election. District 3 includes the Hamburg area of southeast Lexington.
Through the Kentucky Open Records Act, the Herald-Leader obtained applications that the candidates submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education. Department officials redacted ages and other personal details. The Herald-Leader could not reach every candidate, but here is biographical information about each of them:
▪ Thomas A. Burich, who described himself as a semi-retired investor, said he had served as a regent on the Murray State University board. He said he had served on several other boards including the YMCA, Republic Bank and Hartland subdivision.
“My commitment as a board member would be to create a highly motivated equal opportunity system in Lexington,” Burich said on his application.
▪ Raymond A. Daniels owns area Waffle Houses and is chairman of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System Foundation, which raises money and awareness for community and technical colleges and projects.
“I believe the school system is on the correct trajectory and I can be of service in enhancing that improvement,” Daniels’ application said.
▪ Richard A. Harless said on his application that he works at Employment Plus at Toyota in Georgetown. He said he was an instructor at Bluegrass Community and Technical College for 10 years before that and has been an associate warden in the federal prison system.
“School board members are to work to improve school operations and provide innovative solutions to solving problems as well as visions for excellence,” he said on his application.
▪ Richard Hughes said he was, for nine years until 2015, a graduate level instructor at Morehead State University. Before that he was a teacher, coach, administrator and superintendent of Hardin County Schools.
“Education changes lives,” Hughes said on his application. “It is my calling, my vocation.”
▪ Tina N. Nance said she is associate director of the Governor’s Scholars Program Foundation, a position she said had allowed her to visit almost every school district in the state.
“My commitment to public education” is why Nance decided to work for the Governor’s Scholars program after she graduated from law school. “I have a strong desire to ensure all students succeed.”
▪ Christie Y. Oliver said she is communications director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute at the University of Kentucky.
“I have always been an advocate for education. As a native Kentuckian, I want the best possible education for our children. The board position came open in my area and I felt it was my obligation to make a contribution, if possible,” Oliver said.
▪ Donald R. Schaefer said he was the president and CEO of the Jackson Energy Cooperative until he retired in 2013. He said he had served on eight boards, including the London-Laurel Chamber of Commerce and the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Board.
“I have been looking for a way I could help Kentucky and Fayette County in a very meaningful way,” he said.
▪ Alex L. Scutchfield, a Lexington attorney, said he serves on the LFUCG Human Rights Commission but would resign if he got the school board post.
Scutchfield said he had an interest in seeing each school in the district “succeed and provide a quality education for its students regardless of location” or socioeconomic demographics.
▪ Richard A. Spaulding said he is a UPS package handler.
“I have presented my Power of Words lecture to more than 30 schools” in Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina, he said.
“A fair and equal chance for a complete and well rounded education should be available for everyone and I want to do my part to ensure that,” he said.