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'We'll do it right': State education board plans national search to find successor for Holliday


Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday visits Murray Independent Schools for an "Extra Holliday" Jan. 11, 2012. Photo by Amy Wallot

Soon-to-retire Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday visits a Murray Independent Schools classroom. (Photo by Amy Wallot/Kentucky Department of Education)


 

By Brad Hughes
Special to KyForward
 

Rebounding from Wednesday morning’s surprise announcement (See KyForward story here) that Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will retire Aug. 31, the Kentucky Board of Education jumped into action later that day, agreeing to the first aspects of a plan to hire Holliday’s successor.
 

The state board directed Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai to craft a request for proposals for a professional head hunter firm to assist it in the search. Desai said he hopes to have the RFP on the street for about three weeks. KBE member David Karem will chair a subcommittee that will review the vendor proposals and recommend one or more firms to be interviewed by the full board May 6 or May 7 in Louisville. KBE Chairman Roger Marcum and board member Grayson Boyd complete that committee.
 

“Our intent would be to select a vendor that day. We would then turn them loose to find candidates and that would give us quite a bit of time to find a new commissioner by Aug. 31,” Marcum said.
 

“I’m saying we’re looking for someone who can handle this job not just at the state level, because this is not just about the kids in Kentucky. That’s who we directly serve, but his work has impacted more than just the kids in Kentucky.” — KBE Chair Roger Marcum

The May meeting also will serve as a chance for the full KBE to establish a set of criteria for candidates for the commissioner’s job. Board members directed Department of Education staff to develop a process by which the public can provide input on the criteria scope. Specifics about how that public comment will be collected will be announced later.
 

Although Holliday’s announcement gives the state board five months for its work, Karem – the only KBE member to have participated in prior commissioner searches – warned his colleagues that the time frame will be a full one.
 

“My recollection was that this took a lot of time. There were a lot of meetings. The firm helped quite a bit by guiding the board. Coordinating finalists (for face-to-face interviews) took an extensive amount of time. It was quite a challenging operation,” he said.
 

Marcum said the state board will need to discuss the possibility of appointing an interim commissioner, if needed, and whether any limitations should be placed on that individual’s options to be a candidate for the permanent post.
 

“Maybe more so than at any time in our history in Kentucky, Commissioner Holliday has kind of raised our national presence, perhaps equal to or greater than when KERA (the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990) was passed. As one board member, I would not want to lose that,” Marcum said. “I’m saying we’re looking for someone who can handle this job not just at the state level, because this is not just about the kids in Kentucky. That’s who we directly serve, but his work has impacted more than just the kids in Kentucky.
 

“Like with a local board of education, there is no more important decision that you make as a board than who you hire as a leader,” he said. “I know it’s going to require a lot of extra work. There needs to be a strong commitment on our part to be full participants. I know this will conflict with vacations and family time, but it’s really important that we all be part of this process. We’ll get this done. We’ll do it right.”
 

Brad Hughes is director of member support for the Kentucky School Boards Association and writes for the association’s eNews service.


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