Fayette school board agrees on time line for superintendent search

The Fayette County Board of Education agreed Thursday night on a general superintendent search time line, with the goal of selecting a new superintendent by July 1 to succeed Stu Silberman.

Board members, most of whom have never gone through a superintendent search, spent two hours familiarizing themselves with the complex process. Silberman, 59, announced Tuesday that he is retiring after leading Fayette County Public Schools for almost seven years.

Silberman did not attend Thursday's meeting and has said he will not be involved in selecting his successor.

To move the selection process along, school board members want to have a superintendent screening committee selected by Feb. 28. Members of that panel, which is required by state law, would review applicants, then submit a list of recommended superintendent candidates to the school board.

Board members said they also will advertise for proposals from national search firms that could help recruit candidates. They want proposals from the firms to be ready for board review the week of March 7.

It's unclear whether the board actually will hire a search firm. Board chairman John Price said members want to "test the waters" of what services such firms could offer and the costs involved. Board members also are leaning toward using the Kentucky School Boards Association to provide in-state expertise in the search.

Mike Oder, the school boards association's superintendent-search consultant, gave board members a general overview of the process at Thursday's session. The association has the capability of conducting a superintendent search itself if the board chooses to hire it.

Board members indicated they want to use focus groups or other steps to gather public input on qualities Lexington residents want in a new superintendent. They stressed the need for confidentiality in reviewing candidates but also said they want to have forums where finalists could meet and be evaluated by the public.

Price said after the meeting that he thinks having a new superintendent on board by July 1 is "doable" without having to hire an interim superintendent. Price said he expects Fayette County will receive superintendent applications from Kentucky and around the country.

A crucial first step will be seating the screening committee. By law, it must include two teachers elected by district teachers; a classified employee elected by classified workers; a principal elected by principals; a parent elected by PTA presidents of each school; and one school board member.

Screening committee members will be selected by online voting, district officials said. The plan is to accept committee nominations from the various groups Feb. 14 to 18, hold online voting Feb. 21 to 25, and have the board approve the committee makeup at its Feb. 28 meeting.

Board members said they want Price to represent them on the screening panel. Price said he's willing but wants to think it over first.

Oder gave the board's initial plans a general thumbs up.

"You all are on the right track," he said.

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