Last Updated December 14, 2017

Why is the Jefferson County Board of Education conducting a search for a new superintendent?

The previous superintendent, Dr. Donna Hargens, resigned from the position of superintendent effective July 1, 2017, two years before the end of her contract term.  The Board appointed Dr. Martin Pollio as acting superintendent to fill the position on a temporary basis beginning July 2, 2017, while the Board conducts a search for a new superintendent.

Why did the Board appoint an acting superintendent, instead of appointing someone to fill the position of superintendent immediately upon the resignation of Dr. Hargens?

Kentucky law permits a school board to appoint an acting superintendent on a temporary basis when the position of superintendent becomes vacant.  The appointment of a qualified person to serve as acting superintendent allows a school board to take the time that is necessary to conduct a thorough search for a new superintendent, while ensuring that the day-to-day management of the school district will be continued without interruption. On the last two occasions when there was a vacancy in the position of superintendent, in 2007 and 2011, the Board appointed an acting superintendent to fill the position on a temporary basis.

What type of search is the Board conducting for a superintendent?

The Board is conducting a national search for candidates to serve as the superintendent of the Jefferson County School District.  The Board has advertised the position through ads placed in national publications that are read by many educators and by listing the position with national associations of school administrators and superintendents, including such associations whose membership includes educators who are members of minority groups. The application process is open to all interested candidates, both internal and external. Conducting a thorough search among all interested candidates will provide assurance to District stakeholders that the most qualified candidate will be chosen for the superintendent position. This web page will be used to keep the public informed with up to date information about the search process.

What is the Board looking for in a superintendent?

The ideal candidate must not only possess the skills required for any school superintendent of a large urban school district to be effective, but must also understand and demonstrate the skills needed to be successful in implementing the District’s strategic plan, Vision 2020.  In addition, the superintendent must have a demonstrated capability of working effectively with a diverse array of community groups and must be a strong advocate for public education.  Also, as discussed below, the search process will include input to the Board from District stakeholders about what the community thinks the Board should be looking for in a superintendent.

Who will be responsible for the search and hiring process?

The members of the Board will have the ultimate responsibility for conducting the search and hiring the superintendent.  The members of the Board will be assisted in this process by a firm selected by the Board to provide public relations and community relations services, by the members of a superintendent screening committee to be selected in accordance with Kentucky statute, and by significant input from District stakeholders, which the Board will obtain through the community relations services to be provided by the selected firm.

Has the Board selected the firm that will provide the public relations and community relations services?

The Board issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the services of such a firm on September 27, 2017.  Responses to the RFP were received and evaluated in October, and on October 23, 2017 the Board awarded the contract to Bandy Carroll Hellige, a Louisville public relations firm. At the regular meeting of the Board held on November 28, 2017, Bandy Carroll Hellige made a presentation to the Board regarding the firm’s work plan for providing the public relations and community relations services.

Why did Board hire a firm to provide public relations and community relations services?

The Board feels that community feedback is an important part of the superintendent search process.  The Board previously issued an RFP for the services of a superintendent search consulting firm.  The services requested in that RFP included community relations services.  The members of the Board felt that the responses to that RFP did not adequately address the provision of those services, so the Board has decided to move ahead with the search process by issuing an RFP for those services.  The Board received proposals from firms that understand Louisville and can ensure that all segments of our community are given the opportunity to provide feedback as to the qualities that they are looking for in a leader of the District.

Will the Board also hire a superintendent search consulting firm?

The Board issued an RFP for the services of such a firm in August 2017, and responses to this RFP were received in August and early September 2017.  However, for the reason stated above, this part of the search process has been put on hold by the Board while community feedback is obtained through the services of a firm selected through that RFP process.  Superintendent search consulting firms are able to provide to school districts the services of professionals who have had extensive experience in locating, recruiting and evaluating qualified candidates for superintendent positions around the country.  Because such a firm can provide valuable assistance and advice to the members of the Board and the superintendent screening committee, the Board may decide to hire such a firm to provide such assistance and advice after the community feedback process described above has been completed.

What is a superintendent screening committee?

Kentucky law provides that a school district seeking to hire a superintendent must receive advice from a superintendent screening committee.  The statute provides that this committee shall be composed of two teachers, elected by the teachers in the district; one Board member, appointed by the Board Chair; one principal, elected by the principals in the district; one parent, elected by the presidents of the parent-teacher organizations of the schools in the district; and one classified (non-teacher) employee, elected by the classified employees in the district.  The statute further provides that if, and only if, a minority member is not otherwise elected or appointed to the committee, one minority parent member shall be elected by parents in an election conducted by the Board.  As of this date, all members of the committee have been selected.  The membership of the committee is as follows:

  • Board member – Chair Brady
  • Teachers – Brent McKim and Beth Fuller
  • Principal – Julie Cummings, Eisenhower Elementary
  • Parent Elected by PTA Presidents– Karin Bennett, parent of a Male High School graduate and two current students at Academy@Shawnee
  • Classified Employee – Sue Foster, AFSCME
  • Minority Parent  Elected by District Parents – Yvette Gentry, parent of a Male High School graduate and two current students at Johnson Traditional Middle School
What involvement did the Board have in the selection of the members of the superintendent screening committee?

In an opinion issued in 2002, the Kentucky Attorney General opined that the teachers in a school district have sole control over the rules and procedures governing the election of the teacher representatives to a superintendent screening committee.  In accordance with this opinion, the election of the teacher members of the committee was conducted by the Jefferson County Teachers Association, the labor organization that represents most JCPS teachers.  Consistent with this opinion, the election of the first parent member of the committee was conducted by the 15th District PTA; and the election of the principal member of the committee was conducted by the Jefferson County Association of School Administrators, the organization that represents most JCPS administrators (including principals).  The election of the classified member of the committee was conducted through an online ballot that listed five candidates nominated by each of the labor organizations  that represent the district’s classified employees.  The Board’s general counsel assisted the classified employees with this election by making arrangements for the online election process, but in accordance with the Attorney General’s opinion each of the labor organizations followed their own rules and procedures to select their candidate.  The only members of the committee whose appointment or election had direct Board involvement are the Board member who will serve on the committee and the minority parent member of the committee.  As provided in the statute, the Board member who will serve on the committee was appointed by the Board Chair.  The election of the minority parent member of the committee was conducted under the supervision of the Board’s General Counsel.

What rules and procedures were used in the election of the minority parent member of the superintendent screening committee?

The Board’s assistant superintendents asked the principals under their supervision to nominate minority parents from their schools.  The assistant superintendents also asked the principals to provide a few sentences describing each nominee.  From that group of nominees, the Board’s general counsel conducted a random draw to select 10 names for a ballot that was distributed to parents via their students.  The JCPS Communications Department also gave notice to parents of the election and provided a copy of the ballot using the JCPS One Call notification system. 

What role will the superintendent screening committee have in the search and hiring process?

As provided in the statute, the screening committee’s only role is to make recommendations to the Board.  The statute clearly states that “the board shall not be required to appoint a superintendent from the committee’s recommendation.” Although the screening committee will review applications of candidates for the superintendent position, the final decision will be made by the Board members.  Further, the recommendations of the screening committee will be only one of the sources of information that the Board will use in selecting the new superintendent. The Board members will also review the applications that are received from candidates. The Board members will also rely on survey responses and other information from the community, including information that will be gathered by Bandy Carroll Hellige, the firm that will provide the public relations and community relations services described above. 

The screening committee held an organizational meeting on November 17, 2017.  The members of the committee discussed their plans for performing their role in the superintendent search process and they elected Julie Cummings, principal of Eisenhower Elementary School, as chairperson of the committee.  The meeting included an executive session as permitted by Kentucky law. The screening committee met again on December 8, 2017 and held an executive session to review the applications that have been submitted by applicants for the superintendent position. The next meeting of the committee will be held on December 20, 2017.

What role will the community have in the search and hiring process?

The Board will seek input from all District stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, non-teacher employees, principals and other District administrators, and community organizations and groups, through an equitable process in which each segment and population of the community will be involved.  This input will be provided through the superintendent screening committee and through various methods of outreach to District stakeholders, which will include online surveys, public meetings, and focus groups conducted by Bandy Carroll Hellige, the Louisville public relations firm that has been awarded a contract by the Board to provide public relations and community relations services. The process of obtaining input from stakeholders has begun and is expected to continue through January 2018.

Will the Acting Superintendent and other potential internal candidates be involved in the search and hiring process?

Those persons will not be involved in the selection process. In order to preserve the candidacy of any current District employee who may apply for the position, the Board will take direct responsibility for the process, assisted by the persons mentioned above and the Board’s General Counsel. No information will be provided to any internal candidate that is not also provided to external candidates.

Has the Board Advertised the Superintendent Vacancy?

The Board advertised the superintendent position in national and state publications and online job listings that are widely read by educators, including minority educators.   Potential candidates who responded to the advertisements were provided by the project manager with an informational brochure about the district and an application form.   The project manager received nine applications in response to the advertisements prior to the deadline for submitting applications, which was December 1, 2017.  These applications will be reviewed by the screening committee and by the members of the Board.

What is the timeline for the search and hiring process?

The Board has not created a fixed timeline at this point for each step in the search process.  However, the Board expects that the process of reviewing applications will take place through December and January; that the finalists for the superintendent position will be interviewed in February; and that the superintendent will be selected by the middle of March, so that he or she can begin work by April 1st.  These dates are not intended to set a fixed timeline.  It is possible that the search process can be shorter than this and that the new superintendent can be selected more quickly than this.

What contract will be offered to a prospective superintendent?

Kentucky law permits a school board to appoint a superintendent for an initial contract term of no more than four years. As is always the case with the hiring of a school district superintendent, a contract will be negotiated between the Board and the successful candidate. The contract will be a public document once it has been approved by the Board.

Will the superintendent search process be conducted by the Board in both open and closed meetings of the Board?

In accordance with Kentucky open meetings laws, most discussions involving the hiring by the Board of a superintendent are conducted in an executive session not open to the public.  However, both the Board and the screening committee may from time to time use open sessions to keep the public informed about the superintendent search process, to the extent that information is not protected from public disclosure by Kentucky law.