Under the process proposed by a search firm, only the names of three or four finalists for Fayette County Public Schools superintendent will be made public. Finalists will undergo daylong public interviews.
Fayette County school board members plan a national search for a superintendent whom they hope to hire by July 1. Board chairman John Price said the board had no candidates in mind at this point.
Proact Search, an Illinois-based firm, is helping the board find a replacement for Tom Shelton, who resigned last year to become executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. Proact chief executive officer Gary Solomon met with the school board last week to describe how the process could work.
Proact is asking school board members, a screening committee and district administrators to sign a code of ethics saying they won't reveal the identities or any information about prospects, applicants, candidates and finalists up to a given point in the search. A similar document was part of the district's last search for superintendent, Price said.
Solomon said the concern was that potential candidates would have their names released before they notified their current employers that they are in the running for the Fayette job.
"The single biggest obstacle to a successful search" is a breach of confidentiality before finalists are publicly named, Solomon told board members.
However, he said, "I very much believe in transparency. As long as we are clear on when things are going to go public. ... I do not aim to keep secrets from local media."
Solomon said the process should be equitable and inclusive, involving teachers and principals and others who have a stake in the district.
Price said the board wanted "every candidate to go through the exact same process."
The job opening is posted on Proact's website. But a more complete profile with qualities suggested by a wide range of people is expected to be developed by April 15.
The position will be advertised in local, regional and national newspapers and education publications, and on websites. Applications for the job that will offer a $240,000 to $260,000 annual salary, according to Proact documents, are due by May 15.
During the week of May 25, the school board and screening committee could get confidential candidate materials. The materials will include criminal background checks and other searches of information in the public domain, validation of credentials and reference checks.
The members of the screening committee are district budget director Julane Mullins, Fayette County Education Association president Jessica Hiler, associate certified personnel director Meribeth Gaines, principal representative Kate McAnelly of Beaumont Middle School, parent representative Sharon Mofield-Boswell, and school board member Daryl Love.
The screening committee will review all qualified applicants and give their top recommendations to the board. The Kentucky School Boards Association will work with Proact.
In late May or early June, the full school board will conduct initial interviews with semifinalists. In June, the board will determine the finalists, who will be subjected to comprehensive background checks and public interviews. The new superintendent is expected to be named at the end of June. Marlene Helm is serving in the interim.
Price said the superintendent of Fayette County "is one of the most important jobs in the community. We want input. We want buy in. We want to hear from people."
"We are really committed to making sure that the public is a part of the process and that they can be involved at every level," said district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall.