Local News

Education Commissioners Raise Ethical Concerns With Free Trips

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says international trips paid for by an education foundation did not lead to the decision to contract with its business arm.

The New York Times reported several states entered into agreements with Pearson after taking trips on its foundation’s dime and this raises ethical questions, said Times reporter Mike Winerip.

Pearson’s bid in Kentucky was $2 million more than the lowest bidder, but KDE officials said the decision to contract with Pearson was based on its value, not on its price. Winerip contacted tax experts to help explain the relationship between a business and its foundation.

“I then started calling tax people to get them to explain to me where the line was, where the wall had to be between a foundation and the for-profit arm of Pearson and Pearson Foundation,” he said.

The foundation’s tax forms omitted payments for travel and entertainment expenses to any government officials and the non-profit could be in violation of federal tax-code if it pushes any business interests, said Winerip.

Local News Politics

Education Commissioner Receives Positive Review

A year ago, he was the 2009 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.  Now, after one year on the job as Kentucky’s Education Commissioner, Terry Holliday is getting rave reviews from the State School Board.  But Chairman David Karem says in the current economy, the board isn’t able to give Holliday a raise.

“I don’t think he would take a pay raise at this point in time,” says Karem. “And I frankly admire him for that, because while we’re not staffing up as much as we like, and we’re having furlough days and things of that sort, I think he feels, and we all feel, that would not be appropriate at this time.”

Holliday has a four-year contract that pays him $225,000 per year.  Holliday replaced former Commissioner Jon Draud who resigned for health reasons.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Reactions to Naming of Next Education Commissioner

Education leaders throughout the state are reacting to today’s selection of Kentucky’s next education commissioner. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The reactions to the state Board of Education’s choice of Terry Holliday range from Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman to the head of the Kentucky Music Educators Association. Holliday has been a superintendent of two North Carolina school districts and worked in high school music programs for 15 years.

The appointment comes after Kentucky scrapped its state testing system, and Berman says Holliday’s priority should be creating a new system.

“I think his first years are going to be on standards and accountability,” Berman says. ” The legislation has really forced that. I think how he works with the administration to, in a sense, formulate a new elementary and secondary education act out of what was No Child Left Behind will also be very important.”

Berman says although creating a new system of accountability will be a lot of work, it’s also an opportunity.

“With Senate Bill 1 and the change of assessment, we have the opportunity to completely restructure assessment in this state so that it, in a sense, improves the quality of what we do,” he says

John Stroube of the Kentucky Music Educators Association says he hopes Holliday will help improve music education in public schools.

Some educators have been concerned about ensuring quality arts education since state government scrapped the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System in Senate Bill 1.

Stroube says Holliday could shape new provisions under the law to evaluate arts education.

“Most arts educators would hope that this program evaluation would be strong, solid; it would not be marginalized,” he says. “And we would like to see people with music education degrees teaching music to elementary students and art education degrees teaching art to elementary students.”

Holliday, who begins work August 5th, will be paid $225,000 per year for four years. He replaces former Commissioner Jon Draud, who resigned for health reasons.

Local News

Education Commisioner to be Named This Week

A new state education commissioner will likely be named this week by the Kentucky State Board of Education. The board has been searching for a new schools chief since Jon Draud resigned early this year for health reasons.

Spokesperson Lisa Gross says the board held final interviews with four candidates last week, and has set this Friday as the announcement date for a new commissioner.

“I really think the board is determined that they are going to select someone from these four finalists,” says Gross, “they seem to be very happy with the caliber of the four finalists, they say that any one of the four would be a fine choice.”

Board Chairman Joe Brothers has said all along he wants to have a new commissioner in place by August 1st.

The board came under some criticism after naming the four finalists last week, because none of them have Kentucky connections.

Local News

Interviews Continue in Commissioner Search

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The Kentucky Board of Education, which continues its search for a new state education commissioner, is meeting in closed session Thursday in Lexington.

Now that the school board has narrowed the list of candidates to 12, it will meet privately to discuss feedback from the applicants’ references. Lisa Gross of the Education Department says another round of interviews could come next week.

“And if they do that, it most likely would mean they will cull down the list of 12 people that they interviewed to a smaller group, because that’s more manageable to do more interviews,” says Gross.

The board is on a tight timeline because it wants a new commissioner in place by August 1st.

Former Commissioner Jon Draud resigned late last year for health reasons. Former deputy commissioner Kevin Noland is serving as interim commissioner.

Local News

Interviews for Education Commissioner Set for Next Week

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky’s search for a new education commissioner is intensifying. After meeting privately for almost three hours, the state school board has narrowed the list of candidates from more than 80 to around 12.

Board Chairman Joe Brothers says now the interview process begins.

“We are on schedule. We wanted to review all applications we received. We did so,” says Brothers. “We will next take a group of them that we identified as first round folks to be interviewed and we’ll continue to work the process.”

But Brothers says resumes are still coming in, and some are quite impressive.

August 1st is the board’s target date for filling the post left vacant by the departure of former Commissioner Jon Draud, who resigned for health reasons.

Local News

State Education Board Wants New Commissioner by August

The Kentucky Board of Education wants to have a new education commissioner in place by the first of August.  The board is meeting this week in Frankfort, and has selected the Florida firm of Greenwood/Asher and Associates to conduct the search.  

Spokesperson Lisa Gross says the board was clear about its search criteria. 

“The board members want to make sure that any candidate that is brought to them by that search firm has been vetted, that there have been background checks, that they’ve talked with people who work with those candidates, so they can get a good sense of the kind of track record that person has,” says Gross.

The previous commissioner, Jon Draud, resigned in February, citing health concerns.  He had been commissioner since November 2007.  

Local News

State Board of Ed to Begin Search for New Commissioner Soon

The Kentucky Department of Education is again looking for a new commissioner.

Jon Draud resigned the post earlier this month, citing health reasons. He suffered a mild stroke in September.

Department spokesperson Lisa Gross says the parameters of what they’re looking for in a leader change with the times.

“The criteria is very general right now, and it does change, because the needs change,” says Gross.” Right now, we’re dealing with a fairly severe budget crisis in Kentucky, it wasn’t as severe two years ago when we were looking for someone to fill this position.”

Gross says the state board of education will interview potential search firms for the position next month in Louisville.

Before Draud was hired, the job went to Illinois educator Barbara Irwin, but she resigned before starting work when questions arose about her qualifications. She had been selected to replace longtime commissioner Gene Wilhoit.