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Finalists named for local superintendent positions

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By Staff

Out of a combined 36 candidates, seven applicants have been named as finalists for local superintendent positions, including two local principals, two current superintendents, two district directors and an assistant superintendent who is a finalist for both districts.

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The Nelson County Schools Board of Education received a recommendation from its screening committee Tuesday night, a list that included three names. Thomas Nelson Principal Wes Bradley was among the candidates recommended and was joined by Travis Hamby, of Trigg County Schools and Charles B. “Chuck” Abell, of Spencer County Schools. The names of four finalists were released Wednesday afternoon with the board adding Taylora Schlosser, superintendent of Marion County Schools, to its list of candidates to interview.

Board Chairman Damon Jackey said that while the board was presented with three strong candidates, they were made aware of all of the candidates who applied and wanted to add Schlosser for an interview. The board, the public and the screening committee were informed from the start that the board had the legal option to step outside of the recommendations of the committee and choose to interview any applicant. It also has the legal right not to interview any of the recommended candidates or to ask for more recommendations.

“We’ve got three candidates that the screening committee recommended, but when we became aware of all the applicants, there was another strong candidate” we wanted to talk to, Jackey said. He said the board wants to interview candidates who appear to have the characteristics and qualities it and the community previously identified.

“We’ve got four very strong candidates, two sitting superintendents, an assistant superintendent and a principal, and they all bring very different sets of skills and experiences,” Jackey said, adding that having the chance to sit down and figure out who is the right fit for the job is important.

In the guest comments portion of Tuesday’s meeting of the Nelson County Board of Education, several stepped up to the podium to reiterate thoughts and concerns on the superintendent selection.

Amanda Nokes, of Cox’s Creek, shared a statement on behalf of Thomas Nelson High School teachers.

“I come to you today as an informed constituent to reiterate the values and qualities discussed by the community at the forum in the fall,” Nokes said. She urged the board to look at what qualifies the district’s next leader, such as community, infinite care and love for students. “We ask you to shatter any preconceived notions and ensure that our next superintendent will forge new roads to success and decline taking any prefabricated pathways with our children, our future and our most precious commodities. We trust you to make the decision and to ensure our community and children are the driving force behind your selection.”

Others also commented on the search, saying the decision is about the children and looking for a candidate with a vision for the future. Misty Roller wanted the board to look at the results candidates are getting in their current districts. She also thanked the screening committee for its work.

“We’ve trusted these six individuals to be our voice and make a recommendation based on what is best for our kids and which ultimately is best for our community.”

Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, asked the board to select a superintendent who knows the community, and about the local workforce and equipping students with necessary career skills. Adam Wheatley, a former board member, said he had been approached about concerns in the process and reminded the board members that the community “expects the best” from their selection.

Sheila Pfeiffer, of Boston, advocated specifically for Wes Bradley, prior to his name being released as a finalist, saying his work at Thomas Nelson has been spreading to other schools and districts.

“When you have teachers and educators from around the state constantly coming to your school to see what they can do better because of what you’re doing there, I think that speaks volumes,” she said.

Bardstown City Schools also released the names of four finalists, matching the recommendation made by its screening committee on Tuesday. The list includes Ryan Clark, who currently serves as Bardstown Middle School’s principal. Joining Clark as a finalist for the position are Matthew Baker, of Greenup County Schools, Anthony Thompson, of Russell Independent Schools; and Abell, who is a finalist for both Bardstown and Nelson County.

“It’s easy to understand why each member’s respective group selected them to serve in this very important capacity,” Phil Eason, a consultant with the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, said of Bardstown’s screening committee. “They were very focused, thorough and purposeful in fulfilling their responsibilities and, as a result, the board has a strong list of finalists to consider.”

With finalists named, the screening committees now step back and the boards of education take over in the process of interviewing and appointing a new superintendent. Tuesday meetings served as a time for both districts to go through training and develop interview questions. Bardstown City Schools plans to appoint a new superintendent May 1. Nelson County Schools plans to fill the position by April 17. A list of all finalists and current positions is available below:

Finalists for Bardstown City Schools are:

• Charles B. “Chuck” Abell, assistant superintendent of Spencer County Schools.

• Matthew Baker, director of district-wide programs for Greenup County School District.

• Ryan Clark, principal of Bardstown Middle School.

• Anthony Thompson, director of pupil personnel for Russell Independent Schools.

Finalists for Nelson County Schools are:

• Charles B. “Chuck” Abell, assistant superintendent for Spencer County Schools.

• Wes Bradley, principal of Thomas Nelson High School.

• Travis Hamby, superintendent of Trigg County Schools.

• Taylora Schlosser, superintendent of Marion County Schools.