HAZARD – The Perry County Board of Education on Monday approved the hire of an interim superintendent to fill the position as the board begins a search for a full time replacement.
The board interviewed two candidates during a special called meeting: Jonathan Jett, the district’s current maintenance and transportation director, and former Perry Central High School principal Estill Neace. Jett received the board’s approval for the position by a final vote of 4-1, with board member Charlene Miller being the sole vote against. He will serve in an interim capacity for six months, though if a full time superintendent hasn’t been hired by May 1, his contract can be extended up to three additional months.
Jett, a Perry County Schools employee since the 1990s, said following the meeting that he is appreciative that the board would give him the opportunity to lead the school district, and that educating the county’s students will be his main focus. He added that at present he does plan to apply for the position full time when it becomes available.
For the short term, however, he said he expects to begin evaluating what programs are working in the district and those programs that may not be as effective, and he’ll also be looking at the budget and any areas where officials can make cutbacks if possible.
“Of course, I’ll look at budgetary issues, ways that we can save money with a tough economy like we’re in right now,” he said. “Always looking at budgetary concerns, and just making sure everybody’s focused on education and that we’re back to what we’re hired to do, and that’s educate students.”
Current Superintendent John Paul Amis announced his retirement last week, and in a district-wide email Monday congratulated Jett, noting that Jett has also served as the district’s special education director and chief academic officer. He added that Jett’s administrative experience will serve him well once he takes his new position on Nov. 1.
Jett was transferred to his current position following the ACT scandal at Perry Central in 2010, during which investigators determined that test answers had been altered on several testing booklets at the school. Following the investigation, two of Jett’s educational certificates were temporarily suspended by the Education Professional Standards Board, though the standards board at the time noted that the suspensions were due to his position as the district’s chief academic officer, and not because of any direct involvement with the tests.
Jett on Monday acknowledged the action taken against him, but added that he’s going to focus on the district’s future and not its past.
“I’m moving past that,” he said, adding that the agreed order with the standards board is currently online for anyone to review. “That’s in the past. I’ve dealt with that, and moving forward.”