School board selects firms for district reviews

Author: Lisa Deffendall • First Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015

In a huge step forward for Fayette County Public Schools, board members voted Nov. 23 to hire national experts to review school district operations and services. A series of five external audits are a key linchpin in Superintendent Manny Caulk’s “Listening, Learning, and Leading” entry plan, which outlines his first 100 days. “This is a monumental day for the Fayette County Public Schools,” Caulk said. “I applaud the board and district leaders for embracing these objective external reviews of how the school system is functioning. Transforming the district requires us to start from a shared understanding of our strengths and challenges.”

As part of his plan to assess the state of the district, Caulk asked the board to invest $600,000 in an overall organizational and structural review of the district across 10 domains, as well as audits of the district’s career and technical education program and services offered for students who have special needs, are learning English as a second language, or are identified as gifted and talented.

The Kentucky Department of Education agreed to do the review of district career and technical offerings at no cost. That review began earlier this month with School Director Jack Hayes and Program Manager Kim Lyons coordinating the work with KDE. Contracts were awarded Monday to Cross & Joftus for a Comprehensive District Diagnostic, Review and Action Plan, and to Curriculum Management Solutions Inc. for audits of the English as a Second Language program and Gifted and Talented program. Contract costs are still under negotiation, but the district review will be no more than $198,000, and the ESL and GT audits will be less than $84,500 each. The special education audit will be brought to the board for action on Dec. 3.

To help with the selection of firms, Caulk gathered input from a wide variety of stakeholders. More than 45 principals, teachers, district administrators, parents, and community representatives served on panels to evaluate the 17 proposals received by companies interested in conducting the reviews.* “Collaboration is more than a catch phrase for me,” Caulk said. “The input from so many different voices strengthened our decision-making process, and they should be very proud of their work. If we want people to take ownership in our schools, we have to include them every step of the way.”

Reviews will begin in January. In addition to an equity audit, the Cross & Joftus review will include an evaluation of the district across 10 domains: operations; finance; human resources; school management; academics; vision, strategy and culture; organizational structure and policy; external affairs; data, accountability, research and evaluation; and central services.

The firm has identified experts in each area to take the lead on that section of the review and is also partnering with UPD Consulting, a minority-owned firm that has received national recognition for its work in public sector management consulting. Also augmenting the work will be Class Measures, an internationally focused organization that specializes in data analytics and school performance reviews.

Caulk’s entry plan also includes quantitative and qualitative data collection through school and program visits, one-on-one meetings, listening sessions and surveys.  His entry work has continued in earnest while Caulk has been undergoing treatment after an 18-hour surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his sinuses. He has conducted listening sessions with community advocates in Cardinal Valley and the West End, and surveys of principals and employees in district support services have been completed. A comprehensive survey of students, employees, families and community members will be conducted in January. Caulk will also launch his listening tour in schools and community centers then.

“I’m anxious to be done with my treatments so that I can get back out into schools and classrooms,” Caulk said. “I’m still engaged in the daily operations of the district, but I miss being able to interact with students, teachers, school staff, families and our community.”

* Here is the list of stakeholders involved in selecting the audit firms:

  • Batool Al Hasan, parent
  • Natasha Al-Suud, teacher
  • Heather Bell, principal
  • Gerry Brooks, principal
  • Adrielle Camuel, administrative assistant
  • Manny Caulk, superintendent
  • Shelley Chatfield, staff attorney
  • Penny Christiansen, parent
  • Marilyn Clark, manager of economic development
  • Emily Cripps, ELL teacher
  • Michael Dailey, associate director
  • Amanda Dennis, acting director
  • Lisa Deffendall, spokesperson
  • Anne DeMott, principal
  • Keri Duncan, special education teacher
  • Jennifer Dyar, human resources director
  • Levi Evans, teacher
  • Hazel Forsythe, Equity Council representative
  • Jessica Frye, parent member of special education advisory council and task force
  • Marlene Helm, acting senior director
  • Jessica Hiler, FCEA representative
  • Lisa Hillenbrand, district ELL specialist
  • Dave Hoskins, principal
  • Rodney Jackson, finance director
  • Deena Jones, district GT specialists
  • Twanjua Jones, principal
  • Kate McAnelly, principal
  • Jimmy Meadows, school director
  • Sam Meaux, principal
  • Sandy Mefford, principal
  • Matt Moore, purchasing technician
  • Julane Mullins, budget director
  • Sharon Mofield-Boswell, parent
  • Schuronda Morton, acting school director
  • Leisa Pickering, University of Kentucky agency representative on the special education advisory council and task force
  • Randy Peffer, school director
  • Greg Quenon, principal
  • Meredith Ramage, principal
  • Beth Randolph, principal
  • Vicki Ritchie, school director
  • William Saunders, NAACP representative
  • Edwina Smith, principal
  • Johnnie Sparks, KAPE representative
  • Alan Stein, Commerce Lexington representative
  • Julie Stone, parent
  • Isabel Taylor, Equity Council representative
  • Darryl Thompson, acting senior director
  • Myron Thompson, acting senior director
  • Meagan Weiss, teacher
  • Roy Woods, Equity Council representative

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