Harrie Buecker, the departing superintendent of Franklin County Public Schools, will soon take a job in education development with the University of Louisville.
The Nystrand Center of Excellence in Education where she’ll work aims to “develop, implement and study collaborative efforts to improve teaching,” according to the university.
Buecker will lead the center’s Office of Educator Development and Clinical Practice and also act as liaison between the university and education agencies throughout the state.
“I look forward to utilizing my background and experience over the last 36 years in the K-12 school area toward the postsecondary environment,” she told The State Journal at her office Friday.
Buecker, who came to Franklin County in 2007, said she plans to stay here for now and commute to Louisville. Her new position starts July 1.
“It’s going to be exciting work, and I’ll still be in schools, and I’ll still be working with teachers and future teachers in the graduate program,” she said.
Buecker says she’s proud of the work she did for Franklin County Public Schools, in particular the creation of the Early Learning Village, which serves students in preschool through first grade.
“There’s a lot of research and examples of how early learning in the primary grades is very different from primary and intermediate,” she said.
“I think what goes on at the Village will resonate for years to come.”
Buecker also noted that the school district’s rainy day fund has grown during her tenure, from approximately 2 percent – the state minimum – to more than 9 percent now.
“Because of, I think, our conservative budgeting and our watching every penny to make sure it was going where we needed it to go, we were able to start building on that contingency,” she said, adding that school district administrators expect budget cuts to continue for at least the next two years.
“I know that a 9.4 percent contingency sounds high, but we are outspending revenue and have outspent revenue the last two years because of funding cuts at both the federal and state level.”
“We really do need that contingency, and we need to guard it.”
She also noted the expansion of the school district’s alternative program, a quadrupling of the number of teachers with National Board certification and partnerships with Kentucky State University and local civic organizations.
“I believe that we have truly evolved into a strong, student-centered school district,” she said. “I’m very happy to leave the district with those conditions.”
Buecker announced in January her plans to resign when her contract expires June 30.
School board members were divided in their support of the superintendent for a year or so leading up to that announcement.
Some praised her leadership, but others showed concern about her treatment of employees, communication with other administrators and the district’s overall climate under her watch.
She was also the subject of a 10-month state investigation that found she overstepped her authority or didn’t follow school board policy in four instances, but cleared her of six other allegations of misconduct.
She says she has no regrets or wishes she’d done anything differently leading Franklin County Public Schools.
“No, I really don’t have any regrets,” she said. “I think we did what we needed to do at the time we came.”
The Board of Education recently announced that Assistant Superintendent Chrissy Jones would become the district’s next leader.
“I believe that given the personnel we have, the leadership that we have in the district and the support we have from the community, and the financial situation that we’re in right now, I think … the district is poised to go forward with student achievement success and move our students toward 21st century readiness,” she said.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be here for five years and to meet some amazing educators, supportive parents and some fantastic students, and I wish everyone the best in the future.”