Legislators OK contract between KDE and search firm in finding new education commissioner

06/09/2015 02:36 PM

FRANKFORT — A legislative panel has approved a $117,000 contract for a Florida-based firm to identify the state’s next education commissioner.

The Government Contract Review Committee unanimously voted Tuesday to proceed with a contract between the Kentucky Department of Education and Greenwood/Asher & Associates, which was hired in May following the retirement of Commissioner Terry Holliday.

Holliday announced in April his decision to step down effective Aug. 30, and Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai said the board hopes to name a replacement by then. If not, a hire will be made by December at the latest, he said.

Greenwood/Asher’s contract calls for $70,000 in base pay plus additional expenses such as candidate searches and background checks, Desai said.

“They get reimbursed up to $10,000 for travel,” he said, noting Greenwood/Asher will conduct another search at no cost if the newly hired commissioner leaves within a year. “We reimburse them for up to $15,000 for candidates’ travel, and then up to $22,000, and that’s just an up-to amount, for background searches and other expenses associated with the search.”

Sen. Max Wise, co-chairman of the review panel, asked whether any Kentucky firms submitted bids for the contract, but Desai said none did.

Greenwood/Asher has worked extensively in Kentucky, conducting past searches for the two most recent University of Kentucky presidents, Northern Kentucky University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Desai said. What’s more, he said Greenwood/Asher identified Holliday as a potential commissioner for KDE when he was hired in 2009.

“If I remember correctly they’ve done about 270 searches in the last three years nationally, and they’ve done about 20 in Kentucky in the last five years,” Desai said.

With a short timeframe to work, Desai said the state education board may elect to identify 10 potential candidates before winnowing the field to three and hiring a replacement. In 2009, the panel found 10 potential candidates, narrowed that list to five, then identified a final three before hiring Holliday, he said.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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