If you stayed up late following all of the media updates and Twitter threads last night, you already know the gist of the story. The Kentucky Board of Education met yesterday to interview the three finalists for Kentucky’s education commissioner position, and yes, a decision was reached. But after hours of discussion in closed session, the KBE revealed late last night that they are entering contract negotiations and will not yet reveal the name of their hire.
The names of the three finalists were released a couple of weeks ago, so if you’re a betting person, you’ve got a 1 in 3 chance of guessing who’s been tapped to lead Kentucky’s public school system. There’s Dr. Jason Glass, a Kentucky native who’s currently the superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools in the metropolitan Denver area. Next, there’s Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, a researcher and academic who currently serves as the dean of UK’s College of Education. Finally, there’s Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith, a JCPS Assistant Superintendent with a variety of experiences in educational and non-profit leadership.
Glass deferred comment to KDE after the news broke last night and Cumings Smith did not comment at all. So far, Vasquez Heilig has been the only finalist to speak up.
Reached out to the three finalists, and so far only @ProfessorJVH has provided comment. He is "incredibly honored" and regardless of what happens he looks forward the top-ranked College of Education in the state "working in collaboration with @KyDeptofEd in every way possible."
— Kevin Wheatley (@KevinWheatleyKY) July 8, 2020
Vasquez Heilig did not comment on whether he was entering into contract negotiations with the KBE. He did, however, send out this eyebrow-raising tweet right before the meeting resumed from a break last night.
Full speed ahead at @UKCollegeofEd !!
— 𝒥𝓊𝓁𝒾𝒶𝓃𝒱𝒶𝓈𝓆𝓊𝑒𝓏𝐻𝑒𝒾𝓁𝒾𝑔 (@ProfessorJVH) July 7, 2020
The timing is interesting, but again, it may not be prudent to read too much into anything right now.
As for when the selected candidate’s name will be released, the KBE is saying mid-to-late July, so education-minded Kentuckians will have to keep waiting a little while longer. Personally, I think it’s smart that the Board is waiting to announce their hire until after contract negotiations have been made. Given the way Kentucky’s last two education commissioners ended their terms, it seems especially important for the KBE to have their ducks in a row for this hire.
So who will be our state’s next education chief? I’m curious to hear your thoughts below.
Candidate photos courtesy of NKYTribune.