State Rep. Jon Draud Chosen As Education Commissioner

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Even while working the last nine years in
the General Assembly, state Rep. Jon Draud (R-Edgewood) never
considered himself a politician.
"I was always an educator first," said Draud, a retired
superintendent of the Ludlow school district in northern Kentucky.
Still, it's Draud's political experience that helped land him
the state's highest education job on Sunday. Draud, 69, was
unanimously selected as the education commissioner by the Kentucky
Board of Education.
"I'd been in the state house for nine years and had great
support from both Democrats and Republicans," Draud said. "I'm
not viewed as a very partisan person. I think an important part of
this job is working well with the governor, and I hope my
experience helps."
Draud beat out three other finalists for the job, and he hopes
his political ties will help get funding for programs designed to
have all state students reach proficiency by 2014.
"We've got to try and get these things funded," Draud said.
"It's going to be difficult because they're predicting money
problems again. We've got all these groups competing for money. I
hope I can get a fair share for the kids in our elementary and
secondary schools."
The Kentucky education commissioner post has been vacant for
almost a year. The previous commissioner, Gene Wilhoit, resigned to
take a job with a Washington, D.C.-based education advocacy group.
In May, the state school board hired Illinois educator Barbara
Erwin, but she resigned from the $220,000 post shortly after amid
controversy over errors on her resume and criticism of her
leadership in past jobs. The hiring process has drawn scrutiny
since Erwin's hiring and resignation.
Gov.-elect Steve Beshear had asked the board to reopen the
search nationally, hire a new search firm and seek additional
candidates so it would have a broader pool of people to draw from.
Chairman Joe Brothers said the board's decision had nothing to
do with Beshear. Instead, Brothers said, board members feared the
integrity of the search would have been jeopardized had it scrapped
its current batch of finalists.
The board interviewed three other finalists besides Draud:
Richard Hughes, retired Hardin County school superintendent; Larry
Vick, the Owensboro school superintendent; and Jim Warford, former
superintendent of a Florida school district and a former chancellor
of the Florida Department of Education.
Draud, who isn't sure when he will assume the post, said he
doesn't expect the transition period to take very long because of
his familiarity with the issues facing the state.
"I know what's going on in the General Assembly," he said. "I
understand how schools work. It's not going to be very complicated
for me."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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