Three candidates vie for Fayette school board opening

Three people will be considered to fill an unexpired term representing District 5 on the Fayette County Board of Education, state education officials announced.

They are Michael Hunter, a business manager who said he has a strong interest in education; Marsha Strein, a former 16th District PTA president and one-time substitute teacher; and Daryl Love, a business executive who has served on various boards and panels supporting education. Each has at least one child attending public school in the Fayette County.

The next step in the process of filling the board seat calls for Strein, Love and Hunter to be interviewed by a panel of education officials at the Fayette County Public Schools' central offices on Dec. 7.

The interviews will be conducted by a representative from the state education department staff and two or three other people chosen from among former local school board members or representatives of education organizations. No one from the Fayette Schools will take part in the process.

Based on the interviews, state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will then appoint one applicant to fill the unexpired term of Becky Sagan, who resigned from the Fayette School Board in September after moving out of District 5. The appointee will serve until the November 2011 election.

Strein describes herself as a full-time school volunteer. She has been a PTA president multiple times at three different Fayette schools; been a site-based council member at the elementary and high school levels; judged essays for the Governor's Scholars Program; received the National PTA Lifetime Achievement Award; and is host of a program on the school district's TV channel that highlights school partnerships.

"You can see from the schools I've been involved with that I'm an advocate for all kids, no matter what demographic they are from," Strein said. "I've worked to make those schools better for all the kids."

Love, who works in public relations at Ashland Inc., has been an elementary school site-based council member and school volunteer; was a board member of the Partnership for Successful Schools; and has served on the advisory committee of the Governor's School for the Arts.

"With two boys in the school system, I have a vested interest. I have a passion for making sure that all kids have an opportunity to live up to their full potential," Love said. "We have to make sure our standards remain high, our teachers are equipped to reach our goals and that we understand the needs of students."

Hunter is the district manager for Concord Custom Cleaners in Lexington. He has been a football and karate coach and enjoys working with young people, a fact that also prompted his interest in education, he said. Hunter said he wants to improve opportunities for all young people.

"We have great opportunities for children at Tates Creek High School, where my daughter is a student," Hunter said. "But I also know they have a lot of children who are struggling there, and at a lot of the other schools in the area as well. It seems like we could do more to get everybody to a higher level. I see so much potential in our kids, and I just felt like this was something I ought to get involved in."

The Kentucky Department of Education, which selected the three candidates, said that four people filed applications to succeed Sagan. One was disqualified after state officials determined that the applicant did not live in District 5.

The racial makeup of the Fayette school board will hinge on the upcoming appointment. The board's only black member, Kirk Tinsley, was defeated in this month's general election and will leave the board at year's end. The board could be without African-American representation for the first time since the mid-1990s. There are five seats on the board.

Among the three people to be considered for appointment to represent District 5, only Love is black.

However, there is no requirement that Holliday consider racial makeup in making the appointment.