Holsclaw announces plan to retire from BCS

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Superintendent to leave position by end of school year

By Kacie Goode

Nelson County Schools will not be the only district in the area going into a school year under new leadership. Brent Holsclaw, who has served as Bardstown City Schools’ superintendent for 13 years, announced Tuesday afternoon his plans to retire from the position at the end of the year.

Holsclaw’s portrait — soon to include an end date to his years of service — hangs on the wall inside the Bardstown Board of Education’s conference room, along with the seven other superintendents the district has had in its 110 years. Holsclaw built his service to the district upon what his predecessors established.

“It is unique when you come to a school district that has a foundation where things are going extremely well,” Holsclaw said. “You look at folks like Dr. (Robert) Smotherman and those people on the Board of Education during that time, and the foundation that they laid for someone like myself to be able to come in and move us forward.”

Holsclaw said his decision to retire is not because of state pension issues, but it is something he has thought about for a while. Believing the district is in a good position, he now feels comfortable stepping away.

Holsclaw highlighted some accomplishments the district has seen in recent years, including the opening of an on-site health clinic, the creation of a STEAM Academy and a similar program for 3- and 4-year-olds, accreditation from AdvancEd, and the Kentucky Department of Education in 2016 recognizing the district as “Distinguished.”

He credited a good working relationship with the Board of Education for seeing those efforts come to fruition.

“This Board of Education is absolutely wonderful to work with. It’s a great place to be. We look at the city school system as a family,” he said. It’s a place that I’ve just really, really enjoyed.”

The board reciprocates that relationship as well, having praised Holsclaw for his work.

“We have achieved a lot of things with him,” said Franklin Hibbs III, who joined the board in 2012. “Brent has been the steady man on the wheel. He steered us to where we needed to go.”

Hibbs said Holsclaw has been a strong advocate for the education of children in Bardstown schools

“He’s been just a great guide through this,” and as the board has a challenge ahead in finding a replacement, he hopes they can find a candidate to fill Holsclaw’s shoes.

Holsclaw’s retirement will bring an end to his 34-year career in public education. He got his start back in 1984 at North Hardin High School as a business education teacher and coach. In 1990, he came to BCS for the first time, working as a guidance counselor and football coach.

“I had a great time there at Bardstown High School for those six years,” Holsclaw said. “I was a very malleable person at that time in my career, and coming to Bardstown was something that really helped me make some very defining decisions upon how I would view things,” such as academics, special needs, and school culture.

After his time at Bardstown, Holsclaw served as principal for one year at LaRue County Middle School, followed by working three years at Old Kentucky Home Middle School under the leadership of Nelson County Schools’ then-superintendent Dr. Jan Lantz.

In 2000, Holsclaw left Nelson County Schools to return to Hardin County, where he was part of the creation of John Hardin High School.

“It was a wonderful experience being able to start from the ground up,” he said.

His work with John Hardin, he said, was a training ground for becoming a superintendent.

“Things worked out very well when Dr. Smotherman decided to retire in 2005 and I applied for this job.”

While Holsclaw will remain with the district until the end of the current school year, the process of finding a replacement will begin next week. The Bardstown Board of Education will hear from representatives of both the Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the Kentucky School Board Association about the services those organizations can provide in assisting with the superintendent search and selection. Those presentations will take place at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting at noon Jan. 16.

“Our board has been extremely proactive,” Holsclaw said, and the current plan is to potentially have a new superintendent in place by mid-April, which is around the same timeline as Nelson County Schools.

On a personal level, Holsclaw said the new superintendent should be someone who understands, values and respects the tradition of the school district and what those who have served it have accomplished in 110 years.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of so many great leaders, school board members and educators in this district over the years,” he said.

With more than a decade dedicated to the system, Holsclaw said he is leaving behind a wonderful school community. What makes a good school system is not academics or athletics, Holsclaw said, “It’s about relationships that we build with each other.”Brent Holsclaw, the superintendent of Bardstown City Schools, announced Tuesday afternoon his intention to retire at the end of the current school year. In a formal letter to the members of the Bardstown Board of Education, Holsclaw thanked the board for the tremendous support they have provided him during his tenure as superintendent.

"Together we have worked to ensure our Independent School System has a future that will be as stellar as its past," Holsclaw told the board members, according to a press release. "We have done this by maintaining and nurturing our rich tradition of Excellence, Innovation, and Diversity.  I am excited about what lies ahead for Bardstown City Schools and look forward to watching it continue to flourish in the future."

Holsclaw has served as superintendent for the city school district for the past 13 years. In the release, Jennifer Shrewsbury, incoming school board chair, said the board has had a solid working relationship with Holsclaw "and together have accomplished a great deal, including district-wide accreditation and achieving Kentucky Distinguished District status in 2016," she said. "Our goal with the upcoming search for a new superintendent for Bardstown City Schools will be to conduct the search in a very transparent manner with input from parents, staff, and community members."

With Holsclaw's retirement, both the Bardstown City Schools and Nelson County Schools will enter a year with new top district leadership. Nelson County is currently in the processes of searching for a new superintendent, with plans to have the position filled by April.

The start of the search for Bardstown will begin with the board choosing an organization to help facilitate the process, which will be done at their regularly scheduled Jan. 16 school board meeting.  A representative from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA) and the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) will be at that meeting to inform school board members of the services their organizations provide to school districts in superintendent selection so that the board can make an informed decision.

According to the release, Holsclaw has devoted 34 years to public education in Kentucky. He was raised in Hardin County and graduated from East Hardin High School.  He continued his studies at Berea College earning his bachelor's degree in Business Management and Education in 1983. Holsclaw earned a master's degree in 1989 and in 1995 he earned a degree in School Administration at Western Kentucky University. He began his educational career as a teacher and coach and later served as a school counselor, assistant principal and served in the capacity of principal at both the middle and high school levels. In 2005, he was named superintendent of Bardstown City Schools, succeeding Dr. Robert Smotherman.

In its 110-year history, Bardstown City Schools has had only eight superintendents, according to the release.