CRESTWOOD, Ky. (WDRB) -- Incoming Oldham County Schools Superintendent Jason Radford has had July 1 circled on his calendar “for quite some time.”
That’s when the former Boone County Schools assistant superintendent is slated to replace Greg Schultz as superintendent of Oldham County Schools.
Radford has been learning the ins and outs from Schultz, meeting with district stakeholders and community members and working with members of the board of education on his plan for his first 100 days as superintendent for two weeks as he prepares for the transition.
His primary focus now, he said, is learning more about the district’s successes and areas that may need attention.
“What are our strengths? What is the work that’s currently happening in our buildings at the district level, and where are those opportunities for improvement?” Radford said. “So I think that has allowed me to be able to have some really good two-way conversations.
“I think that's important so that our folks — meaning school and district level — we can add value to the work that's been done and really create some momentum together."
The Oldham County Board of Education announced his selection from among three finalists on May 18, and the board is scheduled to vote Monday on a contract that will pay him $165,000 annually.
Like other school districts in Kentucky and across the U.S., Oldham County Schools must provide support for students and staff after the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in how instruction was delivered, he said. School districts in Kentucky and elsewhere quickly transitioned to remote learning in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened and stricter mitigation measures were enacted.
“Those are probably some of the biggest things that are on my mind in addition to just making connections with our leaders, our teachers and our community as a whole,” Radford said.
The former teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and state education official is assuming the reins at Oldham County Schools as school districts in Kentucky and throughout the U.S. grapple with teaching about race. Critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that racism is embedded in U.S. laws and policies, has become a point of contention for many conservatives. Some have also decried districts' efforts to improve racial equity and provide diversity training for staff.
Several opponents of critical race theory were asked to leave a Jefferson County Board of Education meeting Tuesday after interrupting as Jefferson County Public Schools officials discussed their work in racial equity.
Oldham County Schools has empaneled a diversity, equity and inclusion committee to focus on issues on academic success and the social-emotional needs of students and staff, Radford said.
“That is not that same as critical race theory,” he said, adding that the Oldham County school board is not looking to discuss or implement critical race theory. “... We want every student to have the best learning experience and to reach his or her potential with learning, and that's why we exist.”
Radford said he hopes he can build upon the “tradition of excellence” that has been built at Oldham County Schools to ensure “every student is known, every student is valued, every student is supported, every student is loved.”
“As I'm sitting here talking about that, I have chills that go down the back of my neck just with the pride that our folks demonstrate in talking about this great place,” he said.
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