Fayette School Board sets standards

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Board of Education members agreed Monday evening to place the interests of students above all else and cemented their focus on the achievement of all students regardless of race, class, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, special need or English language proficiency.

By unanimous vote, the board approved a “standards of practice” document outlining 14 agreements that they drafted during a retreat with new Fayette County Public Schools superintendent Manny Caulk earlier this month. Following their vote Monday, board members took turns ceremoniously signing poster-sized copies of the agreement, which will be displayed in the board meeting room.

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“I’m proud and pleased with the progress of our board and the commitment we’ve made to our students and to building our working relationships as a superintendent/board team,” said Fayette County Board of Education Chair John Price. “We wanted to share our agreement with the public, to demonstrate our commitment to moving our district forward for all students.”

The agreement starts with the following preamble: “As elected members of the Fayette County Board of Education, we accept the high honor and trust that has been placed in us to ensure that the students in this district receive the best education available anywhere in the United States of America. In accepting this role, we hold the pursuit of that goal as our sacred duty. To that end, we hereby commit to the following in the conduct of our business.”
Among the agreements outlined are maintaining a strategic plan to guide the work of the district, monitoring progress toward those goals, following federal and state laws, abiding by school board policies, and respecting the confidentiality of privileged information.

The board also pledged to “base our decisions upon available facts, vote our convictions, avoid bias, and uphold and support the decisions of the majority of the board once a decision is made,” and, “work to build trust between and among board members and the superintendent by treating everyone with dignity and respect, even in times of disagreement.”

“In order to have a high performing school district, we need a peak performing board that operates with shared beliefs and commitments in the best interest of all students,” Caulk said. “I want to commend them for this work and for their willingness to be a part of this journey.”

Developing these operating principles and conducting a retreat with the school board were important components of Caulk’s “Listening, Learning, and Leading” entry plan, which outlines his work during his first 100 days.
One of the five main goals of Caulk’s entry plan is to establish and ensure effective district governance through positive and productive Board-Superintendent relations. Meeting individually with school board members and holding twice annual retreats as a team are important activities included in the document.

At its October 10th retreat, which was facilitated by leadership development and executive coaching consultant Jim Huge, the board discussed teamwork and communication practices, and drafted the agreements they approved Monday.
“The retreat helped lay a foundation for the work we will need to do to transform the Fayette County Public Schools and meet our moral imperative to prepare all students for success in college, career and life,” Caulk said. “This is just the beginning of great things for our community.”

Caulk was unable to attend Monday’s school board meeting. On September 21, he underwent an 18-hour surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his sinuses. While his treatment continues, Caulk is working as much as he can in the office, but is doing a large portion of his work virtually.
“While I remain engaged in the daily operations of the district, I have to limit my appearances at public events,” he said. “I hope to be back to full speed soon.”

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.