Acting superintendent and COO finalists to be next JCPS superintendent

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio and Chief Operations Officer Michael Raisor are the two finalists to become the next superintendent at Jefferson County Public Schools, the district’s school board announced Tuesday.

Nine applied for the job vacated by former Superintendent Donna Hargens after her July 1 resignation, and the board expects to decide on her replacement by March 1.

Pollio, a former teacher, assistant principal and principal at JCPS who most recently served as principal at Doss High School, has been the district's acting superintendent since Hargens left, and he's optimistic that the six-month audition will serve him well when the Jefferson County Board of Education fills the top job at JCPS.

"I've learned a lot in six months," Pollio told WDRB News after Tuesday's school board meeting.

"Obviously getting into a whole lot of schools and meeting a lot of people, seeing the passion and commitment of the administrators and the teachers and the staff in all of our schools has been an experience for me, but it's a continual learning process, but I feel a lot more prepared than I did eight months ago, I'll say that."

Raisor, who joined JCPS as COO in 2012 after serving as an administrator and principal at the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in Indiana, said his time in the district's central office has given him a chance to observe how superintendents handle things and consider ways he would improve upon them.

"I've now had eight years' experience in the inner workings of a school district, and I think it's so important knowing what makes this school district run and knowing how the intricacies of it work because at the end of the day, this is a large, complex system," Raisor said.

"I mean, we are a very large organization, and you've got to know how the systems work together, and I think that that knowledge and background of the system is a real asset for me."

Frank Mellen, general counsel for JCPS, said during Tuesday's meeting that both the school board and its superintendent screening committee selected Pollio and Raisor as the finalists for the opening independent of each other.

The board will solicit feedback from the community and interview the finalists before making its decision, Mellen said.

Some of that local insight will come through forums hosted throughout Jefferson County, he said, adding that an online survey also will be available on the JCPS website.

“The community will have several opportunities to ask questions of the two candidates,” Mellen said. “Specific information about the dates and locations of the community forums will be forthcoming soon.”

The board has retained the public relations firm Bandy Carroll Hellige to help gather community feedback ahead of interviews with Pollio and Raisor.

While they're set to face each other for the district's top post, both Raisor and Pollio had nothing but praise for the other. Raisor called Pollio a great friend and colleague.

"We work well together, and both of us, I think, want what's best for kids," he said.

Pollio said he has "a lot of respect for Mike" and the job he's done since joining the district.

"He's done a lot of good for operations and facilities and the things that are happening here in JCPS," Pollio said. "So honored to be here with him and like I said, happy to work with him every single day. I'd much rather it be Mike than somebody I don't know."

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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