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Jefferson County School Board Approves New Superintendent Contract

The Jefferson County School Board has approved the contract of newly-appointed superintendent Donna Hargens. Hargens finished a five day tour of Louisville last night and was in attendance for her first Jefferson County School Board meeting.

The contract gives Hargens a $276,000 salary over the next four years. She will be making slightly more than her predecessor Sheldon Berman, but school board chair Steve Imhoff says she’s worth every penny.

Hargens will be back to work in Jefferson County on Aug. 1st; the first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 15. Her previous position was Chief Academic Officer of Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina.

See a copy of the contract here.

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JCPS School Board Names Hargens Next Superintendent

After four hours of closed-door discussion, the Jefferson County School Board named Dr. Donna Hargens as the next superintendent of the district.  Hargens was interim superintendent in Wake County in North Carolina, the 18th-largest school district in the nation.

Hargens was chosen over the other finalist, Dr. Christine Johns-Haines of Michigan.

But both of the finalists have been criticized.  Attendees of a public Q and A remarked that both candidates were underwhelming, and the NAACP called for the search to start anew. That was later echoed by the Metro Human Relations Commission.

Board chair Steve Imhoff, says these critiques weren’t much of a factor.

“First of all, I respect the opinion of the 2 or 3 groups of folks that think we should postpone or reopen,” Imhoff said in an interview after the announcement.  “But not one board member, including me, think we should reopen.  We have two good candidates.”

The school board did not take public comment before making their decision behind closed doors, a fact members of the local NAACP were not happy about before the meeting.

“It’s disrespectful,” Kathryn Wallace of the NAACP said.  “We care enough to be here, we want to be in on the discussion.”

After the announcement, Imhoff rebutted.  “Well, we’ve had public comment.  We had people fill out probably hundreds of those (comment) slips at community meetings.”

The board came to its decision a week earlier than expected, and without member Larry Hujo, who was on vacation.

“To be serious, these are the two best candidates out of the 28 we interviewed,” Imhoff explained.   “And yeah, we have the best candidate.”

If Hargens accepts, she will become superintendent on August 1st. She will replace current Superintendent Sheldon Berman, whose contract was not renewed by the board. Berman has accepted job in Eugene, Oregon.

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Board of Education to Interview Candidates for Interim Superintendent

The Jefferson County Board of Education will meet tomorrow to interview candidates for interim superintendent of the district.

Board president Steve Imhoff previously said he wanted to avoid appointing a temporary superintendent, but it may be necessary if a new leader isn’t in place before current Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s departure. His contract expires at the end of June. The board decided not to renew it earlier this year. Berman has accepted a job in Oregon.

Three candidates will be interviewed in private tomorrow afternoon, but no one will be hired. Tomorrow is also the deadline for candidates to apply to be permanent superintendent. The board will begin reviewing those applications later this month.

Local News Politics

JCPS Board to Vote on Superintendent Screening Committee Members

The search for a new superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools continues tonight (Monday night).

The Board of Education is expected to approve appointments to the superintendent screening committee. The members include parents, teachers and other district employees, and the panel will interview finalists for the superintendent job.

The board will also interview the finalists. Chair Steve Imhoff says there are key issues the candidates will be quizzed on.

“Student achievement, student assignment, being able to manage a large district and get along with the board,” he says. “By the same token, that’s a two-way street and the board needs to get along with that person.”

Imhoff says clashes with the board were likely one reason the body voted last year not to renew current Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s contract beyond this summer. Berman has since taken a job in Eugene, Oregon.

The likely members of the screening committee are:

• Myrdin Thompson, parent
• Joe Leffert, principal
• Sandy Mayes, classified employee
• Brent McKim, teacher
• Royce Whitman, teacher
• Diane Porter, Vice-Chair, JCBE
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JCPS Board Sets Public Meetings on Superintendent Search

Three public meetings have been scheduled in the Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent search.

The school board and its search firm will take public comment on what qualities to look for in a superintendent on Monday at Gheens Academy and Tuesday at the VanHoose Education Center.

Outgoing Superintendent Sheldon Berman was often in the middle of disputes over the JCPS student assignment plan, and it’s likely opponents of the plan will attend the public meetings. Board Chairman Steve Imhoff previously told WFPL the new superintendent will have to support student assignment.

“I’m sure this superintendent will work with us maintaining a good student assignment plan,” he said. “I don’t have much concern about that, because I will not vote for a superintendent that does not believe in diversity and equity in our schools.”

The board voted last year not to renew Berman’s contract. Berman has since taken a job in Eugene, Oregon.

The board and the search firm will also meet separately with stakeholders and students in next week.

Local News Politics

Experience With Under-Performing Schools, Commitment to Student Assignment Among Criteria for Next JCPS Superintendent

The search for a new superintendent for Jefferson County Public Schools has reached another level.

The school board met with the McPherson and Jacobson search firm Monday and established a set of criteria for the next leader. The list includes a commitment to student assignment and experience with urban schools and underperforming schools.

“They really did have a lot of good qualities that they were looking for—a lot of things that are going to be specific to Jefferson County and it certainly is going to give us a clear direction of what we need to do in our recruiting efforts,” says firm owner Thomas Jacobson.

Jacobson says the position will be widely advertised.

“We’ll be posting this position at all colleges and universities across the United States that offer educational leadership degrees. It’ll go to websites on state school board and state administrators associations. It will be advertised on the American Association of School Administrators website, in Education Week and on our own website,” he says.

Jacobson expects to find a replacement for current Superintendent Sheldon Berman by July. Last year, the board voted not to renew Berman’s contract beyond the end of June.

Local News Politics

Berman Among Finalists For Job In Eugene, Oregon

Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman could soon be headed to the Pacific Northwest.

According to reports from Eugene, Oregon, Berman is a finalist for a superintendent’s job in the city.

The JCPS board decided last year not to renew Berman’s contract, which expires this summer. Berman and two other finalists are due in Eugene for a meeting March 8th. Berman’s competitors for the job come from school districts in Montana and Iowa.

Berman told the Courier-Journal he is looking for other superintendent jobs as well.

Local News Politics

School Board Interviews Three Superintendent Search Firms

The Jefferson County Board of Education held a special meeting Wednesday to interview search firms that will help find a new superintendent.

Current superintendent Sheldon Berman’s contract expires at the end of June

Two of the firms: Iowa-based Ray and Associates and Florida-based Greenwood/Asher and Associates have experience in Kentucky. The latter has worked with the state government and is now helping the University of Kentucky find a new president. Ray and Associates helped the state find an education commissioner in 2007. That candidate resigned before taking office due in part to inaccuracies in her resume. A representative for the firm said they did as they were asked by the state at the time. The other firm being considered is Nebraska-based McPherson and Jacobson.

Chairman of the Board Steve Imhoff says he was impressed by all three firms.

“They’ve all helped public institutions colleges and/or school districts hire a whole lot of superintendents so they’ve got the experience and we’re going to use that experience from one of these firms,” he says, adding that there are several key goals he wants the new superintendent to achieve. “Raise achievement, close gaps, and for I think all of us maintain diversity in our schools. For me that’s very, very important. That will help do the other two things,” he says.

The board will select a firm at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday. The Jefferson County Teachers Association and the local NAACP have asked the board to reconsider its decision to replace Berman.

Local News Politics

School Board Committee Reviews Superintendent Search Firm Proposals

A Jefferson County School Board committee met Thursday to review proposals from search firms that will help find a new superintendent.

The committee asked for bids from search firms last month, after choosing not to renew Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s contract, which expires at the end of June. The committee will choose two or three finalists and conduct interviews with representatives from those firms next month.

Board chair Steve Imhoff says the committee does not yet know the firms’ names or prices.

“I can’t tell you that A charges more than B, et cetera. They make their offers and we talk to them and ultimately hope to hire one of them to help us in the search,” he says. “We’re looking for a search firm that will do a good job. These search firms generally have been around in business for years and years. Some of them focus primarily on school superintendents.”

The firms’ names will be revealed during the interviews. The fees will be negotiated.

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Berman Confident Schools Bill Won’t Survive In House

Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Berman says he has “a good deal of confidence” that a neighborhood schools bill that cleared the state Senate Friday won’t survive in the House.

The Republican-sponsored bill would allow students to attend the school closest to their homes if they choose.

Berman says the legislation would dismantle the JCPS desegregation plan and undermine local control of school districts.

“We should not be legislating-in Frankfort-local decisions about student assignment when the board and the community know best what kind of plan we should have,” he said Friday.

The bill was prompted in part by complaints from some Jefferson County parents about long bus rides their children have to endure under the assignment plan.

The chairman of the House Education Committee tells the Courier-Journal that the bill has little chance of passing his Democratic-led chamber.