There’s a new Kopp in town. Mark Kopp, 46, is taking over as superintendent of the Franklin County Public Schools district for the retiring Chrissy Jones.
Kopp, currently chief academic officer and associate superintendent for instructional services at Hardin County Schools, signed a four-year, $130,000-per-year contract effective July 1 with the Franklin County district on Monday. The annual salary is slightly less than the approximately $135,000 of Jones, who is in the first year of her second four-year contract with the district. Jones’ first four-year contract, signed in 2012, was for $125,000 per year.
“We’re thrilled,” said Board of Education Chair Jennifer Grisham-Brown, who invited Kopp to sit with board members at the start of Monday’s regular meeting. The board unanimously approved Kopp’s contract at the end of the meeting.
“It was obvious to the board Mr. Kopp does his legwork and prepares adequately and thoroughly,” the board said in a statement released shortly after the meeting. “For example, he had done a great deal of research and preparation about Franklin County before he came to interview. He was aware of and was able to recall much of the data for each of our 13 school buildings and was able to talk with principals knowledgeably about their schools.”
The board’s statement highlighted Kopp’s 24 years in education, his experience as a teacher, coach, acting athletic director and administrator at the middle and high school levels and his experience as lead social studies consultant at the Kentucky Department of Education.
Kopp was among 22 applicants and four finalists for the job. The other finalists were
Montgomery County Deputy Superintendent of Support Services Richard Culross, Senior Program Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Felicia Smith and Franklin County Assistant Superintendent of District Service David Raleigh. Raleigh was present for Monday’s board meeting.
In her comments to the board, outgoing Superintendent Jones recommended Kopp and the board consider raising teacher salaries for the upcoming year.
“That’s the only way to keep teachers,” Jones told The State Journal.
The district’s preliminary 2017-18 budget does not include raises. Kopp appeared to nod as he listened to board member Chuck Fletcher note that “everyone else in this city and county is getting a raise.” Last month, Frankfort Independent Schools voted to increase teacher salaries by 1 percent next year, and on Friday, the Franklin County Fiscal Court voted to give a 2 percent raise to county employees who didn’t have other budgeted raises in addition to a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment.
Kopp told The State Journal he plans to push a “team” approach in his interactions with community members and on social media.
“On July 1, you’re going to see me meeting with community members,” said Kopp, who considers the local community to be part of “#TeamFCS.”
A native of Waverly, Ohio, Kopp first came to Kentucky in 2005 to work as a consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education. During his four years as KDE’s lead social studies consultant, Kopp lived in Frankfort, which he still considers “home.”
“We’ve lived in three different states,” said Kopp, whose wife of 20 years, Carrie, and their 11-year-old daughter, Ava, joined him at the meeting. “I’m from Ohio; my wife is from Wyoming. We lived in Florida for a while. This is the first place we felt completely embraced by the community.”
Kopp says he’s looking forward to spending weekends at the Kentucky Historical Society and other history-related places in the area.
“At my heart, I’m a history teacher,” said Kopp. “If there’s a battlefield, I want to go see it.”
After Kopp’s stint consulting for KDE, he moved his family to Hardin County, where the Kopps have been ever since. They plan to move back to Franklin County by Aug. 1, in accordance with Kopp’s contract.
Kopp holds a B.S. in education from Ohio State University, an M.S. in social sciences from Ohio University and an M.S. in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.
The district is holding a public retirement ceremony for Jones on from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at 190 Kings Daughters Drive, in the Board Room of Building 200.