Educators from Maine and Virginia are among the finalists for Fayette County Public Schools superintendent.
Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk, 43, superintendent of Portland Public Schools in Maine, will be in Lexington Tuesday and Wednesday, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.
Terri Breeden, 59, assistant superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, will be in Lexington Thursday and Friday. The Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier reported on June 12 that Breeden is also a finalist for Charleston County superintendent and is scheduled to be interviewed there Wednesday. That newspaper also reported that Breeden had resigned from the Loudoun district last month, but was staying there through June 30.
Fayette County district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Breeden told district officials that the fact that she is interviewing in another district the day before she comes to Lexington won't affect her interview here.
"Our community asked us to find a superintendent with a record of success in an urban school district and documented results of consistently improving achievement for all students," Fayette County school board Chairman John Price said Friday in a news release. "We are confident that as superintendent these two transformational leaders would put children at the center of every decision he or she makes, and rebuild trust and strengthen relationships with students, employees, families and the community at large."
The school board met Thursday night for five hours in closed session, receiving an update from the firm McNamara Search on background and reference checks for what district officials are describing as superintendent finalists.
Deffendall said that both Caulk and Breeden were traveling Friday and were unavailable for comment.
The Portland Press Herald reported Friday that Caulk was hired as superintendent in July 2012 and has several years remaining on his contract. That school board voted unanimously in November to extend his contract to June 2019, the newspaper said.
"I will miss Portland, but I'm eager to take on a new career challenge that represents an opportunity for me personally and professionally," Caulk said Friday in a news release from the Portland Public Schools, according to the newspaper.
Portland school board chairwoman Sarah Thompson said in that district's news release that Caulk "has been a transformational superintendent whose dedicated and visionary leadership has led to renewed optimism regarding Maine's largest and most diverse school district."
Thompson said that Caulk and the board worked well together to make significant improvements.
She said the improvements included a balanced budget, progress on upgrading schools, a focus on student achievement, enhanced community outreach, increased parent engagement and new ways to recognize student and staff achievements.
According to a Fayette County news release, Portland is the largest school district in Maine, serving roughly 7,000 students. Caulk previously served as an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia — serving 167,000 students — and assistant superintendent in East Baton Rouge Parish, a district of 46,000 students in Louisiana.
He has seven years of classroom experience, including five years as a special education teacher in a juvenile detention center in Delaware. He has been an elementary and high school principal in public school systems, and dean of students, special education coordinator, and regional director with charter schools.
Caulk holds a bachelor's and a master's degree in education, a law degree, and will complete his doctorate in education this December, according to Fayette County's news release.
Breeden started her role in Loudoun — a school district of 80,000 students on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. — in 2014. She previously served as an assistant superintendent in Fairfax County — a district of 181,000 students in Virginia — and as executive director of grades 5-12 in Nashville, a district of 84,500 students in Tennessee. Fayette's enrollment is about 40,000.
In 2014, the Washington Post reported that Breeden had been Fairfax County's assistant superintendent for professional learning and training overseeing discrimination and workplace harassment awareness training for the school system's 22,000 employees. She also helped secure $1 million in grants from Apple Federal Credit Union to support the administration's new teacher orientation program and led an effort to install "principals-in-residence" as mentors for new principals and promoted "instructional coaches" to help teachers in low-performing schools, the Post reported.
She taught elementary and middle school in Nashville for 12 years, and was an assistant principal and principal. Breeden holds a bachelor's degree in education, two master's degrees in education and a doctorate in education, Fayette County's news release said.
"Each of these candidates has a wealth of experience in classrooms and school leadership roles. Both Manny and Terri have worked with students coming from diverse backgrounds and have demonstrated success in closing achievement gaps," Price said. "Our screening committee and board agree that they clearly meet the profile developed by our stakeholders, and we are excited to introduce them to our community."
Caulk and his wife will arrive in Lexington on Tuesday, beginning with a tour of local schools in the afternoon and will host a reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
On Wednesday, Caulk will be interviewed throughout the day by eight different focus groups representing students, employees, families and community members. Each of the eight interview panels will then provide feedback to the school board about their impressions of each candidate. Those interviews will be held at Bryan Station High School.
A press conference will be held at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at Central Office. Beginning at 6 p.m., a public forum will be held at Central Office
The schedule will repeat when Breeden and her husband arrive in Lexington on Thursday. Again, there will be a community reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The full day of focus group interviews at Bryan Station, press conference at 3:15 p.m. and public forum at 6 p.m. will be on Friday.
The Fayette County board is searching for a replacement for Tom Shelton, whose resignation was effective in December.
School board members have not said whether any other candidates will be considered as finalists.
Out of 57 applicants, school board members interviewed eight candidates last week via Skype.
The job's salary is advertised at $235,000 to $255,000. Shelton's last salary was $253,926.