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Clark Co. taps interim state education chief to be superintendent

The Clark County Board of Education has chosen the state's interim education commissioner to be its new superintendent, leaving a vacancy when she takes the helm at the end of the summer.

Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Elaine Farris was hired as the Clark superintendent at a special meeting Monday. She will begin her term July 1.

In January, the state Board of Education appointed Farris as interim education commissioner to serve until a permanent successor to former Commissioner Jon Draud was selected. The board hopes to name the new commissioner before the school year starts in August.

Farris' hire leaves a month-long gap between her departure from the state and the start of the next commissioner's term, said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.

Gross said the state board of education must decide how to fill the break in leadership. Board members probably will discuss the issue at their retreat May 12 and 13, she said. They normally do not take action at their retreats.

"This is a little out of the ordinary, so they may discuss it then," she said.

State board members usually ask someone within the agency to serve in interim roles, Gross said.

The Clark County Board of Education selected Farris from a pool of 21 applicants. Farris, a Clark County native, appealed to the members because of her passion for students and the community, board chairwoman Judy Hicks said.

"We were just all mesmerized," Hicks said. Board members think Farris' positive attitude "will go a long way in continuing the board's mission in improving education in Clark County," Hicks said.

Farris' previous roles include Shelby County superintendent, the elementary director for Fayette County schools, assistant principal of George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, and principal of Shearer Elementary School in Winchester. She is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.