Picking a superintendent

Board holds meeting to solicit community feedback

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Carter County is “already on firm ground” interim superintendent Dr. Jake Bell told the board and the community at the outset of a special meeting of the board last Tuesday. Now, the job of the board is to choose the person best suited to keep that firm footing from among the candidates put forward by the search committee. But, he said, he doesn’t have any role to play in that process, and so excused himself before the meeting continued. 

Don Martin, from the Kentucky School Board Association, then took over the running of the meeting – repeating the process laid out in the KRS for choosing a search committee and explaining that the process will begin in earnest after Dr. Ronnie Dotson steps down as acting superintendent on September 1. 

He said although applications have already been coming in to the KSBA’s “digital mailbox in Frankfort,” none have been considered yet. 

He said before that step, the policy for boards across the state are always the same – gather as much criteria as possible to make sure the candidates are a good fit. 

The purpose of meetings like this one, he explained, were to solicit feedback to help define those criteria. The board would then ultimately decide on what criteria they wanted to prioritize as they moved forward. 

“The criteria established by the board of education (helps keep the committee focused), and gives everyone the opportunity to provide input into the criteria,” Martin said. 

He also reminded the board that they were not required to speak or answer any questions at this time, only to gather information. 

A few parents showed up in person to speak, and hear about the process, but most chose to provide their feedback online. The board said their online survey had already received more than 500 replies since going live. 

Parent Jessica Fritz, who showed up in person to provide her feedback, told the board that important qualities for her included transparency, and the ability to distill complex ideas into simple explanations. She said she also wanted someone who would be involved more directly in the community. As a leader, she said, the superintendent needed to be reflective, and needed to accept and learn from any mistakes they might make or any problems that arose in the district. Most importantly, she said, they needed to be a good listener, who would seriously consider the concerns of parents and the community. 

Veronica Flannery, pre-nursing instructor at Carter County Career and Technical Center, said she wanted to see someone who would support the continued growth of their programs, and opportunities in the community. She said she also wanted the new superintendent to be someone who would listen to staff and student input on planned school renovations. 

Though Martin reminded the board that they didn’t need to speak, board chair Lisa Ramey Easterling thanked those present for sharing their thoughts with the board and promised to keep their comments in mind as they set their criteria. 

Easterling told them the board would, “take (their input) very seriously.” 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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