Franklin County Public Schools has a new superintendent after the Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to hire local educator Chrissy Jones for the district’s top leadership role.
“I’m just really going to get in there and get my nose to the grindstone,” she said after the official announcement, attended by Franklin County principals, teachers and Jones’ friends and family, who applauded and gave her a standing ovation.
Jones has a 120-day plan to get started, encompassing just about everything, from academics to finances. She said the first step is meeting with staff and members of the community.
“Part of that (plan) is to start talking with people within the district, within the community to start building those relationships,” she said.
She also plans to work extensively with Assistant Superintendent Charley Preston, who oversees facilities, to get a better feel for his responsibilities. She must also find a replacement for her current position as assistant superintendent, and she said she might consider reworking that role.
The two most crucial issues facing FCPS are improving workplace culture and communication, Jones said. She hopes to meet every Franklin County teacher for his or her feedback within her first year as superintendent.
“I want to work with people in the district, community, and just move our district forward,” she said.
“As I told the board, my objective is to make us a leading district in the state here, and it’s going to take a lot of work, but we can do it together if we keep our focus on kids.”
The Board of Education OK’d a four-year, $125,000 contract to begin July 1. Chairwoman Michelle New said additional details about Jones’ contract would be negotiated in the coming days.
“Her knowledge about this district is incredible, and she has a vision about the future of this district, where it can be and will be,” New said after Tuesday’s announcement.
“She has the respect of a lot of the employees in this district and a sheer determination to work hard and make for sure she never asks anyone to do anything she wouldn’t do herself.”
The Board of Education chose Jones from 21 applicants.
“Of course, I was excited, but I also couldn’t believe it,” Jones said of getting the job offer.
“It was something I decided I wanted to pursue, and I honestly didn’t think I would get the opportunity, so it was kind of like shock in some ways.”
She surpassed two other finalists – Kelley Ransdell, director of middle schools in Fayette County, and Mike Stacy, chief academic officer in Woodford County – to earn the position.
The three finalists passed through a screening committee, and then a two-hour interview with the school board, a daylong tour of the district and open house with the public, and a follow-up one-hour interview with the school board.
“We really got to know these candidates, and were able to have dialogue to where there weren’t really any unanswered questions,” New said.
Jones got the job offer Sunday night, but she had to keep it a secret until Tuesday’s announcement – even from her family.
But there was almost a slipup. Jones said she was headed to McDonald’s with her two young nephews when she got the phone call from the school board. One of her nephews overheard and excitedly posted the news to Facebook – she had to ask him to take it down.
Jones spent the first 10 years of her career as a math teacher in Shelby County. She then worked as a middle school assistant principal, middle school principal and curriculum director for the school district.
She came to Franklin County in 2000 as principal at Western Hills High School, where she served four years before moving to Central Office for her current role as assistant superintendent overseeing curriculum and instruction.
Jones earned a bachelor’s in secondary education from the University of Kentucky, a master’s in education and principal certification from the University of Louisville and superintendent certification from Eastern Kentucky University.
She’s working on her doctorate at the University of Louisville and would like to finish it in the next couple of years.
Jones replaces Superintendent Harrie Buecker, whose contract expires June 30. She announced her plans to resign in January.
“With Harrie’s retirement, we’re certainly going to miss her, and there’s no doubt she did some incredible things for Franklin County and contributed to where it is right now,” New said.
“With every change comes a new chapter, and I think we made the best choice we could for us moving forward.”