FCPS names Caulk new superintendent

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- After an interview process Saturday, Fayette County Public Schools has named Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk, superintendent.

The board notified the public of the announcement through an open letter to the media, Saturday. It reads as follows:

Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk, a transformational educational leader with a calling to advance equity for all children, will be the next Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent, following a unanimous vote Saturday of the Fayette County Board of Education.

“This is a great day for Fayette County,” said Board Chair John Price. “The feedback we received about Manny was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. He has a proven track record of engaging the community, establishing trust and championing change.”

The decision brings closure to a busy week of community receptions, constituent interview panels and public forums that involved hundreds of Lexington students, employees, families and community members. No official start date has been set, but Caulk is committed to being here before students go back to school on August 12.

“We’re looking forward to building on the relationships that we had a chance to begin during the interview process and working together with all stakeholders to build a world class system of great schools,” Caulk said.

The 43-year-old, who came to Lexington on the heels of his honeymoon with his wife Christol, has been the superintendent of the Portland Public Schools, Maine’s largest school district, since 2012.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity and deeply humbled. My wife and I are looking forward to making Lexington our new home,” Caulk said. “We couldn’t ask for a better beginning to our marriage.”

Caulk previously served as an Assistant Superintendent in the School District of Philadelphia – serving 167,000 students. Under his leadership, schools demonstrated gains in reading and math on the state assessment. Caulk also served as the assistant regional superintendent and deputy chief for the office of instruction and leadership support.

“I’m impressed with his urban experience in both Philadelphia and Chicago,” said school board member Amanda Ferguson. “His recognition that we need to accelerate learning for every student in our district speaks to his focus on all kids.”

He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Delaware and a law degree from Widener University School of Law. Caulk will complete his doctoral degree in education this December.

“I believe that Manny’s professional experience and lifelong commitment to equity and social justice will enable him to create a collaborative community that ensures all students achieve at high levels and graduate prepared to excel in a global society,” said school board member Doug Barnett.

Prior to his service in Philadelphia, Caulk was the Assistant Superintendent for High Schools of the 46,000-student East Baton Rouge Parish School System.  He has been in education for 19 years, with experience as a special education teacher in a juvenile detention facility, an elementary principal, and a high school principal. He also practiced, law serving as an education law attorney and former assistant prosecutor for the state of New Jersey.

“My takeaway from the interview process is that we have wonderful employees at all levels of the organization. I look forward to supporting their great work and engaging parents and the broader community to increase student outcomes and ensure that every student has a pathway to success,” Caulk said. “My role is that of a servant leader and a catalyst for change.”

The board’s unanimous vote came after more three hours of closed door deliberations following four hours of Skype interviews that started at 7 a.m. Saturday. During their meeting, board members reviewed input from focus groups of students, parents, community representatives, teachers, classified employees, principals, Equity Council members and district administrators.  They also considered student achievement data from each of the candidates’ districts and rigorous background checks conducted by McNamara Search.

“From the screening committee process to the final interviews, I thought we had a very strong and inclusive process, which then allowed us to select the candidate who is the best fit for our district,” said school board member Daryl Love.

Caulk was one of two candidates interviewed this week. The other was Terri Breeden, who is currently Assistant Superintendent of the Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia. Each spent two days in Lexington, meeting with focus groups, touring schools and taking questions from the media and public.

“Our community created such a welcoming environment for our finalists,” said school board vice chair Melissa Bacon. “It was wonderful to see the level of participation at each of the events, from the airport greetings to the receptions, focus groups and public forums.”

The public has been heavily involved throughout the search, beginning with a series of more than 40 public forums and focus group discussions that asked hundreds of Lexington residents about the qualities they’d like to see in the next superintendent.

More than 500 people attended those input sessions and an additional 4,375 people filled out surveys, which were available online and hard copy in both English and Spanish. All of that input, in addition to comments submitted through the district’s online engagement system, was used to determine the characteristics included in the board’s superintendent profile.

All applications were screened against the qualities our community identified as critical for the next superintendent to possess.

Caulk was offered a contract through June 30, 2019 with a starting salary of $240,000. The final terms are still under negotiation.

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