Berman replacement needs "time" to make changes - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Berman replacement needs "time" to make changes

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LOUISVILLE, KY.  (WDRB Fox 41) -- A Jefferson County Public School board member who voted to fire superintendent Sheldon Berman says his replacement needs to "re-energize" the school district.

A veteran superintendent from outside JCPS and a Louisville district PTA president say that process could take years, once the new superintendent gets a handle on the problems -- and meets all the people involved.

The school board seemed to grow impatient with Sheldon Berman, especially as troubles snowballed in the last few weeks:  long bus rides and parental dissatisfaction with the student assignment plan, stagnant overall math and reading scores, and the naming of a dozen middle and high schools to 2009 and 2010 lists of Kentucky's lowest performing schools.

The observers with whom we spoke warned not to expect instant results from anyone new.

We asked a veteran superintendent about expectations -- and how long it can take to meet them.

Leon Mooneyhan served 16 years as Shelby County's superintendent.  He now runs a cooperative that serves central and northern Kentucky school districts.  The co-op does not serve JCPS.

"There are no silver bullets. There's no one that can come in and show sustainable results in a year or two years, even. It's an incredible challenge," Mooneyhan said of any superintendent's job.

"They need to assess, 'Is this something I can be a part of turning around,' because as we know there's an incredible expectation of what's occurred," Mooneyhan said.

Sheldon Berman will leave JCPS on June 30, at the end of a four year contract.  He earns more than $273,000 annually.

In a statement, Berman said, "While I am greatly disappointed by this action, I am now planning what steps I can take to most effectively serve our students and schools during the next seven months."

The school board already has hired consultants to study the student assignment plan and busing costs -- two factors in Berman's losing his job.

"We're going to bring people in and give us a new focus, we do believe in diversity but we also have to be sure that we educate every child," board member Carol Haddad told Fox 41 News.

The Louisville district PTA president says the board and any potential candidates need to consider "...how many parents and family members or community members really want to see a change take place. And that need for an immediate change has to be balanced out with the fact that change does take time," Myrdin Thompson said.

"I think the best thing the next superintendent could do is say, 'We have a situation; this is how we're going to deal with it,' and be honest and up front of that pacing," Thompson said.

The Jefferson County school board voted Monday night not to renew Berman's contract.

It will start the search process before the end of the year.

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