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Williamstown narrows field of superintendent candidates

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By Bryan Marshall

The search for the next superintendent at Williamstown Independent Schools is down to two.

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Assistant Superintendent Sally Skinner and Tom Daugherty, assistant superintendent and director of pupil personnel at Rowan County Schools, met Monday and Tuesday, respectively, with staff, parents and community members during a “Meet the Candidates” event.

The goal of the meetings were to help provide feedback on the finalists for the Williamstown School Board as they prepare to make their choice.

Each candidate met with the board for additional interviews after the “Meet the Candidates” forum.

Twenty people applied to replace Charles Ed Wilson, who after six years with the district announced in November his plans to retire two years before his contract was scheduled to end.

His resignation will become effective July 1.

Skinner, a 54-year-old Prestonburg native, has worked for Williamstown Independent Schools for 11 years.

After graduating in 1976 from Eastern Kentucky University, where she also earned her master’s degree, Skinner worked as a speech language pathologists for 22 years for Pendelton County Schools.

She then came to Williamstown as an assistant to the superintendent and special education director before her title was changed to assistant superintendent.

“I’ve been intimately involved in strategic planning for the district and comprehensive improvement planning,” Skinner said about her qualifications. “I have knowledge of the budget and the importance of maintaining a solid, healthy budget, especially during these difficult times. I have love for the school, the students and the faculty.”

 Although she calls it a team effort, Skinner said the district’s test scores have improved since she started at Williamstown.

“Every decision should be made with academic achievement in mind,” she said. “I want to see the continuation of the reputation of our district that in my little way I helped to create. I just think it’s a great place to work and send your kids too.”

Daugherty, a 48-year-old Nicholasville native, received his bachelor’s degree in 1983 from Western Kentucky University, where he also earned his master’s degree.

He worked as a physical education and health teacher for the Jessamine County School District from 1984 to 1998.

All but one of his teaching years were at Warner Elementary.

In 1998, Daugherty became the director of pupil personnel for Rowan County Schools.

He was given the added responsibilities of assistant superintendent four years ago.

Daugherty also works as an adjunct professor in the educational leadership department at Morehead State University.

“I like the small, independent family environment that you receive from a small system,” he said about why he wants to come to Williamstown. “I believe in that. I believe connections and relationships can be formed. I’ve heard good things about the educational things that were happening there.”

Daugherty described himself as a community-oriented person who likes to build relationships.

“I’d be honored to work (at Williamstown),” he said. “I feel like I’m in a spot in my life where I’m ready to take that challenge. I can guarantee them that they won’t be disappointed. I’d do all I can to make sure they continue the success they’ve had.”

The district paid the Kentucky School Board Association $8,500 to assist with the search.

Of the 20 applicants, 16 were male and four were female and only one was a current superintendent.

Sixteen were in-state applicants with two coming from Ohio and one each from Maryland and Indiana.

Eight applicants had central office experience, but not as a superintendent while six were principals.

Two others were affiliated with an education organization.

After the applications were in hand, a screening committee consisting of board chair Liz Wagoner, Williamstown Jr./Sr. High Principal Misty Buchanan, teachers Donna Jones and Deana Cummins, cafeteria manager Stephanie Caldwell and parent Bobby Kemper, looked over them, checked references and recommended finalists to the school board.

If all goes as planned, a new superintendent could be named by Friday, April 10.