The Fayette County Board of Education selected Daviess County Superintendent Tom Shelton as its next superintendent Friday after more than nine hours of deliberation. Clark County Superintendent Elaine Farris was one of the other two finalists for the position, along with Jessamine County Superintendent Lu Young.
Fayette board chairman John Price said all three candidates had excellent qualifications and the lengthy deliberations reflected the difficulty the board had in choosing between the three candidates.
Price said the board couldn’t reach a consensus until it reviewed comparisons of student achievement in the home districts of the three finalists, which showed a consistent improvement in student achievement in Daviess County during Shelton’s tenure as superintendent.
Shelton’s contract calls for an annual salary of $240,000 for three years and 10 months, which is slightly less than outgoing superintendent Stu Silberman, who was paid almost $244,000 this year.
Though she was disappointed, Farris said afterward that the board made the decision it felt was best for Fayette County schools and its more than 37,000 students.
Farris was a late applicant for the Fayette County position, and said she applied after being approached by people within the Fayette district.
“I didn’t initially seek the position when it became available, but there were several people from Fayette County who called and encouraged me to apply,” Farris said.
Farris was no stranger to Fayette County schools, having previously served as an elementary schools director for the district before becoming Shelby County Superintendent in 2004. She has also held posts in the Kentucky Department of Education, including interim education commissioner, before returning to Clark County as superintendent in 2009.
After she was named a finalist for the Fayette County job Wednesday, Farris called having a chance to lead the second largest district in the state a good career move and an opportunity she didn’t want to pass up. But after Friday’s decision, she said she was happy in Clark County, and happy with the progress the district has made during her time as superintendent.
“I love my job in Clark County, and I think our district is going in the right direction and I want to continue that progress,”¿Farris said Friday. “I never stopped working for Clark County while working through the process, and I won’t stop working. We still have work to do to get this district where we all want it to be.”