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Three finalists for Fayette County superintendent named

By: Andy Cunningham Email
By: Andy Cunningham Email

The search for the next superintendent of Fayette County Schools has been narrowed down to three candidates, two of which are currently superintendents at other school districts in central Kentucky.

Officials with Fayette County Schools released the names of the finalists Wednesday morning.

The finalists are Clark County Superintendent Elaine Farris, Daviess County Superintendent Tom Shelton, and Jessamine County Superintendent Lu Young.

"We felt a national search was in the best interest of our students," said Fayette County Board of Education Chair John Price, in a news release. "But after an exhaustive search and thorough review of applicants, three from within the state appeared to offer the expertise we're looking for."

Farris was Kentucky's interim Commissioner of Education in 2009. She was the first African-American superintendent in Kentucky, at Shelby County Public Schools.

Farris just wrapped up her second year as superintendent in Clark County.

"I love this community, I grew up in Winchester. If I don't get the job in Fayette County I will still have a wonderful job here in Clark County, and I will continue to work my hardest to move this district forward," said Farris, who was once elementary director for Fayette County Public Schools.

"I'm grateful and appreciative of being selected as a finalist and I look forward to the opportunity to meet with community members and to interview with the Fayette County Board of Education," said Farris. The Clark County school district has a student enrollment of 5,500.

Tom Shelton was the 2010 Kentucky Superintendent of the Year. He was director of business and operations at Daviess County Schools, before replacing Stu Silberman as the district's superintendent in 2004, when Silberman became Fayette County superintendent.

"I was blessed to have the opportunity to work under Mr. Silberman for nine years and then to succeed him for the past seven years in my current district," said Shelton. "I now look forward to the possibility of succeeding him again and continuing the great work going on in Lexington/Fayette County, which I think has all the resources and support to have the best school district in the country." The Daviess County school district has a student enrollment of 11,500.

Lu Young has been with Jessamine County Schools since 1983. She chairs Kentucky's School Curriculum Assessment and Accountability Council.

Young also serves on the governing board of the American Association of School Administrators.

"My thanks to the screening committee and the Board for including me in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Young said. "The Fayette superintendency is a dream job for me and I am looking forward to engaging wholeheartedly in the selection process as it unfolds." The Jessamine County school district has a student enrollment of 7,800.

Young is in her second term as Superintendent of Jessamine County Schools.

"I believe my experience in Kentucky, and my leadership role in this district, has given me the skills and knowledge to help lead Fayette County Schools in the future," said Young.

Officials with Fayette County Schools say they selected the finalists during a two-hour closed door meeting Tuesday night. They say each of the three finalists will spend a full day in Lexington next week, meeting with focus groups representing students, parents, community members and employees.

Each candidate will also take part in a press conference and a public forum during the day.

Officials say Young will interview June 7, Shelton on June 8, and Farris on June 9.

The Fayette County Board of Education will then meet June 10 to begin its decision making process.

The board hopes to have a new superintendent seated by July 1. Current Fayette County Superintendent Stu Silberman announced his retirement earlier this year, after seven years as superintendent.

Silberman has since been hired to become the next executive director of the Prichard Committee.

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