Just over a week after a Kentucky county voted against paying more taxes to fund a new school building, the principal of the high school in question has resigned.
Woodford County High School Principal Rob Akers said the June 26 vote "did not push me out of the school by any stretch of the imagination," but the referendum was surrounded by controversy, dividing the community and pitting some Kentucky superintendents against a former Woodford County superintendent.
Akers, who worked as the school's principal for 13 years, said on Thursday that he is leaving to work for the Kentucky Department of Education. The opportunity to work in the department came up after the tax vote, he said.
"I’ll have the opportunity to serve whole state and I’m looking forward to a new challenge with that," Akers said.
The department of education is currently undergoing reorganization, but Akers said he would have a clearer picture of his role by August.
"I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with the best teachers and serve the best kids at the best high school in Kentucky," Akers said. "Leaving was not an easy decision to make, but the time seemed right."
The vote in June to reject the 5.5 cent school facilities tax that would fund a new building for the high school was preceded by passionate campaigns for and against the tax.
One parent, Karen Venis, even donated $1,000 billboard campaigning for people to support the tax. On the other side of the discussion, a Facebook group called "Vote against Tax Hike" said supporters of the tax for the new school were "pawning children for votes by putting them on the street going door to door."
In the end, 3,758 voted against the tax while 3,442 voted in favor of it.
One of the talking points in the ongoing debate was the claim that a new high school building would bring needed security upgrades.
Woodford County Superintendent Scott Hawkins said Thursday that having a new principal or interim principal at the helm of the high school in the current building will not negatively affect security or education.
"Having a new person leading the building will not change the fact that we want that building to be as safe as it can be and we will continue to offer the best education possible," Hawkins said. "Our approach won’t change."
Hawkins also praised Akers, saying that his long term as principal at the school was a testament to his ability to work well with staff and students.
"Rob has done just an outstanding job for our school district and Woodford County High School," Hawkins said. "You don’t see a lot of principals serve for 13 years."
Hawkins will meet with the site-based council on Monday to discuss options in filling Akers' position.
With little more than a month until Woodford County High School's first day of school, Aug. 9, the council will have to decide "what would be realistic in getting someone in place," Hawkins said.
The principal position has to be posted for at least 15 days before a decision can be made, which does not leave a lot of time to go through the process of consulting staff, parents and students about potential candidates, Hawkins said. Other options could include putting an interim principal in the position.