Higdon obtains perfect marks on evaluation

At the end of their first school year, new superintendents give a first-year capstone presentation.

From the CKNJ File: Superintendent Charles Higdon looks over his notes as he discusses the synthetic turf field project.

Charles Higdon Jr. gave his during a special session on June 3, which was followed by a closed meeting where members of the board sat down with Higdon and discussed his evaluation. 

That meeting took four hours, according to Board of Education Chairman David Hall, and the results were kept private until the monthly board meeting on June 10.

“A year ago last month, our district hired Mr. Higdon to be superintendent of the Taylor County School District,” began Hall. “He was to be the most recent in a line decades-long of strong leaders, different men and women each facing different challenges defined by the changing minds of various board members and the changing tides of time.” 

Hall said the board admired the fact Higdon came into his initial interview “not just ready to answer questions but with a vision to answer immediate needs” and “address coming challenges.”

“We were looking for someone to lead with honor and humility, collaborate with local leaders and respect all within our community as peers, be they young or old, have or have nots, students, faculty, cross-town rivals or alumni.”

He said Higdon’s plan to make himself visible in the school district and establish himself as someone anyone could approach with ideas complemented their own plan of operating transparently.

They also admired his willingness to “slow down” and allow the board to find its voice.

“Our only challenge in this review,” Hall said, “has been to strike a balance between the exemplary manner in which he has executed all seven of the standards in his required review of his first year and our efforts to satisfy the bureaucratic standard to foster the best in someone we believe to be one of a kind.

“It doesn’t do justice to great efforts to be limited to a common scale. It doesn’t speak to promises kept beyond what was asked of him to stick to a generic frame. You can’t show, in future efforts, an improvement on a perfect grade.”

Hall said the board understands the intent of the evaluation process is to examine Higdon’s leadership and address any weaknesses while maintaining his strengths. It’s meant to make the board plan for the superintendent’s continuous improvement, but they felt that wasn’t necessary.

“The seven standards for leadership evaluation are strategic, instructional, cultural, human resource, management, collaboration and influential. He has exceeded them all, and, in so doing, holds our collective esteem,” Hall said. “He has shown us other traits beyond the standards, such as a propensity for compassion, a hunger in competition, resilience in adversity and humility in success. In closing, we have given him his laurels, but know he has no desire to rest upon them.” 

Hall pledged the board would “work with Mr. Higdon at the helm” to continue improving the district and themselves by improving their paths of communication, working on professional development and using each other’s “unique and collective strengths.” 

“May the Lord bless our good intentions and magnify our best efforts,” Hall said.

“All the positive things we’ve said today have been about you,” board member Tommy Raikes said, “but you have given all the credit to everyone else. That is leadership, and that is what you’re doing on a daily basis. I commend you for it.”

The motion to approve Higdon’s perfect score, with exemplary in all categories, passed unanimously.

In other news:

• Taylor County is one of 20 districts in the United States to be named a National Beta Club District of Distinction. Principals from the middle, intermediate and high school were each given a commemorative plaque to hang in their respective schools honoring the achievement.

• Noah Tyler Bolin was awarded his high school diploma, which he earned through Taylor County High School’s partnership with The Healing Place.

• Randall Johnson, of Codell Construction, delivered an update on work being done to the Central Kentucky Career Center. The aviation and health labs are expected to be completed on time before the next school year begins. The industrial maintenance lab is still slated to be ready in December, though they are slightly behind schedule.

• The board voted to approve a technology plan that would have the district replace its devices every five years, setting aside 1/5 of the resources necessary each year to prevent having to make larger purchases all at once. The plan also allows for the surplus of old devices, with money from their sale going to fund new devices.

• A vote was passed to change the monthly board meeting times for the 2019-2020 school year from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

• The Central Kentucky Career Center will soon be looking for a welding instructor. Higdon cited the new jobs being created in Campbellsville by Manchester Tank & Equipment, as well as the popularity of welding classes at the Green County Area Technology Center, as big reasons for the new hire.

• The board voted to rename the Cardinal Career Academy, located in the upstairs area of the Central Kentucky Career Center next to the city lake, and approve its establishment as “Lakeview Academy,” an A-5 alternative school program incorporating grades seven through 12. This classification is intended to make the school eligible for additional funding it could not receive otherwise and will make it the fifth school in the Taylor County School District. No additional staff will need to be hired as a result of this change.