The performance of Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk, who was hired a year ago, has been “remarkable in all areas,” board chairwoman Melissa Bacon said at Monday’s monthly school board meeting.
As part of the superintendent’s first annual evaluation, the board met with Caulk for 2 1/2 hours Thursday in closed session, Bacon said,
Caulk received accomplished or exemplary ratings across the board.
“The work of Superintendent Caulk has been remarkable in all areas, especially considering the personal health challenges he experienced after shortly joining the Fayette County Public Schools,” board members wrote in the evaluation document, referencing Caulk’s diagnosis with cancer less than eight weeks into his tenure, which required an 18-hour surgery and three months of follow-up treatment.
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“We are thrilled with the work you’ve done and you have done it in a shorter amount of time with more fervor since you came back,” Bacon said.
“The superintendent reached out to those who were feeling alienated, making strides for all to feel included, and created a collaborative process for moving the district forward,” board members wrote.
“I want to thank the entire community for your thoughts and your prayers as I battled cancer,” Caulk said. “My health is great, but just as you prayed for me, I ask that you continue pray for others who are battling this disease, especially our young people who are stricken with cancer.”
Caulk’s evaluation was based on recommended standards from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
Board vice chairwoman Amanda Ferguson said the board rated Caulk higher than he rated himself.
Ferguson said Caulk had partnered with the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University, Lexington Fayette Urban County Council, Commerce Lexington, Urban League and the United Way.
In its written evaluation, the board said, “He is the leader that will take our district from ‘good’ to ‘great,’ and we are impressed with his willingness to follow-up and emphasize accountability while equipping and empowering individuals to share leadership and accountability throughout the district.”
Caulk, who is entering the second year of his four-year contract, was praised for his entry plan. Board members were also impressed with the resulting “Blueprint for Student Success” that outlines 100 strategies to improve outcomes for all students in the 2016-17 school year.
They praised Caulk for clearly defining the district’s dual moral imperatives — to accelerate the achievement of students who are reaching toward proficiency and to move students who have already reached proficiency to global competency.
“One of the things I’m impressed with is, not only are we looking at everything in the blueprint through the view of equity, but also too, your focus on social justice,” said school board member Doug Barnett. “And I wish you would have more leaders who would do that.”
School board members also recognized Caulk’s focus on leadership and staff development, praising him for holding the first-ever Superintendent’s Leadership Institute for principals and districtwide leaders, providing a conference on Professional Learning Communities for teams of educators from each school and for sending school and district leaders to Harvard for training in instructional rounds and school turn-around, a news release said.
“You not only came up with a plan, but really renewed a spirit of hope and pride across the district and community in terms of what we can become,” school board member Daryl Love said. “You have helped inspire our staff members to do more through collaboration in order to create systemic change. Our best days are ahead of us and I’m pleased to partner with you and our board team in the work.”
Caulk’s contract runs through June 2019.
His salary for the 2016-17 school year is $245,016.