‘We have a clear vision.’ Meet the new chairwoman of Lexington’s school board.

Fayette County Public Schools

Stephanie Spires, who on Monday was voted the new chairwoman of the Fayette County Public Schools board by her fellow members, said she wants to “follow in the shoes” of her predecessor Melissa Bacon.

“Melissa has done so much for the community over the past 12 years... she will be missed. But I’m thankful that she took me under her wing and mentored me. I hope that this board can continue and that I can live up to the reputation that she established,” said Spires.

Spires replaces Bacon, former school board chairwoman, who resigned earlier this month to care for her aging mother.

Spires, an adoptive and foster mother, has served on numerous community boards. She was formerly executive director of a Lexington’s children’s shelter. She was appointed to the school board in 2017. She is running unopposed for her District 4 seat in the November general election. Spires also has a bachelor of arts degree in Secondary Education Social Studies.

“The thing about this board is that we are really headed in a good direction,” Spires said. “We have a clear vision — the strategic plan — and we know what we are going to do and we are not going to stop until we achieve these goals. We are constantly going to be evaluating and re-evaluating and updating our goals.”

On a personal front, Spires said she is opening a new indoor “kids space” near downtown Lexington in October.

“It’s a play space/community center called Lex Kids Club,” she said. It’s a for-profit center that will partner with non-profit organizations, said Spires. “I hear stay-at-home parents say, ‘I need adult conversation’, working parents say, ‘I’m drowning’, special needs parents say, ’No one understands us.’ “

“We wanted to create a space where kids can play. It’s not one of these elaborate kids’ places. I tell people that it’s the play room on pinterest that you always wanted but you are not realistically ever going to have,” said Spires.

She said it will be a very quiet, calming place where typical children and children with autism and other special needs can engage in a safe space. There will also be programs there, Spires said, such as trivia and science and art camps, and a book club.

“I’m really excited about it because it’s been something I’ve been dreaming about for four years and I’m finally making it come to fruition,” Spires said.

School board Vice Chairman Ray Daniels said he thinks Spires “has the same passion to match Melissa Bacon — the same interest in what’s best for kids and I’ think she will do a great job.”

Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk said he was excited that Spires was leading the board.

“We’ve got an amazing team,” said Caulk. “I’d like to think every member of the team can lead... we look forward to continue to increase the opportunities for children and keep them safe.”

Under Kentucky law, Kentucky’s Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis now has less than 90 days to appoint someone to Bacon’s open District 1 seat on the five-member Fayette school board. The appointed school board member will serve for one year, and the position will be up for election in the fall of 2019. Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said recently that Lewis is working with the state department staff to make an appointment to the board as soon as possible.

There will be another new face on the board in the next several months. Board member Doug Barnett is not running for re-election. Shambra Mulder and Tyler Murphy are running for his Second District seat in the November general election.