Fayette school board might announce superintendent finalists Tuesday

The search for a new Fayette County Public Schools superintendent is entering its final, crucial phase, and the names of finalists for the post could be revealed Tuesday night.

The Fayette County Board of Education meets in special session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, with the goal of selecting finalists from among the 14 who have applied.

The process — which will be held behind closed doors — is likely to continue late into the evening. And board members have said they won't release the finalists' names until all have been called and notified that they're in the final pool.

However, school district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said McPherson & Jacobson, the schools' superintendent search firm, plans to notify probable finalists to stand by for calls Tuesday night, so notifying those selected could take only a few minutes. That would allow the board to make the names public soon after members make their decisions.

All 14 applicants' names have been kept secret. But officials have said they represent Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York and Washington state.

When Fayette board members meet Tuesday night, they will receive the names of five contenders whom the school district's six-member screening committee selected last week as its top choices among the 14 applicants.

"The group of five recommended by the screening committee has some very strong candidates, some stronger than others," said school board chairman John Price, who also served on the screening committee. "I also expect that McPherson & Jacobson will offer the board some input as well."

School board members are not obligated to follow the recommendations of the screening committee or the search firm. Indeed, board members could go with either recommendation, pick and choose names from both recommendations or select an entirely different batch of finalists from among the 14 applicants.

"We appreciate the work of the screening committee, and I think they did a fine job," Price said. "But ultimately, the board decides, and I hope we'll be able to make the names public Tuesday night."

The board has not specified how many finalists it might name, although three to five are likely.

Board members plan to bring each finalist to Lexington for tours of the school district; interviews with the board, meetings with education, civic groups and the media; and a session with the public. One finalist would visit each day of that process.

School board members hope to meet the day after the last finalist visits to go over all the data and impressions they have collected and select a superintendent to succeed Stu Silberman. He announced in February that he was stepping down after leading the district for seven years.