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Kentucky's next education commissioner to be announced Thursday

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Board of Education has called a special meeting for Thursday to announce the state’s next education commissioner.

The meeting will take place at 1p.m. ET and be streamed on the KDE Media Portal.

After two days of interviews, the KBE announced on Tuesday that it had chosen a preferred candidate and begun contract negotiations.

The national search to replace Jason Glass resulted in 15 applicants and the list was narrowed to three finalists, all from Kentucky. They include Superintendent Buddy Berry from Eminence Independent Schools, Superintendent Robbie Fletcher of Lawrence County Schools, and Jim Flynn who leads the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. Flynn told the Herald-Leader that he isn’t the school board’s choice.

The hiring isn't the end of the process to replace Glass who resigned last year amid clashes with the legislature, in part, over policies targeting LGBTQ+ students.

The 2023 General Assembly passed a law that, for the first time, requires the Republican-led Senate to confirm the next education commissioner. State Sen. Mike Wilson of Bowling Green sponsored the bill and says the goal is to confirm the next commissioner before the legislature adjourns in April.

“Say, for instance, they didn’t confirm someone before we were out of session, but they did hire them and they came to work, the next session, by the end of the session, if we did not confirm them, at the end of the session, they would be terminated," Wilson told WKU Public Radio.

The newly-hired commissioner would likely appear before the Senate Education Committee, as well as House and Senate leadership.

The legislature is making other attempts in the current session to gain greater oversight of the Kentucky Department of Education. House Bill 825 would audit the agency's finances and operations. Perhaps the most consequential legislation, Senate Bill 8, would require Kentucky Board of Education members to be elected by voters rather than be appointed by the governor.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.