Stephen Pruitt "likely" next Kentucky commissioner of education

09/06/2015 08:49 AM

The Kentucky Board of Education has a final candidate to become the next Kentucky commissioner of education.

The board announced late Friday that Stephen Pruitt is the likely finalist “pending the outcome of a background check, a vote by the board and successful contract negotiations.”

“Dr. Pruitt is very excited for the opportunity and has indicated to the board that, if offered the job, he would accept,” Kentucky Board of Education Chair Roger Marcum said in a press release. “He brings a wealth of educational experience from the classroom, the state and the national levels. He is personable and a good communicator. The board feels very fortunate to have someone of his caliber and we are confident that Dr. Pruitt will continue to strengthen the tradition of excellence in Kentucky public education.”

Pruitt is currently senior vice president at Achieve, Inc., an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization, where he has served since 2010.

According to Pruitt’s bio with Achieve, he began his career as a high school chemistry teacher in Georgia, where he taught for 12 years.

In 2003, he joined the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) as the Program Manager for Science. He served in that role for four years before becoming Director of Academic Standards, where he oversaw the continued implementation of the Georgia Performance Standards in all content areas. In 2008, he became the Associate Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability, responsible for directing all state assessments and overseeing the No Child Left Behind accountability process. In April 2009, Stephen became Chief of Staff to State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, coordinating the work of the agency and a variety of projects such as Georgia’s third-ranked Race to the Top application. He joined Achieve in 2010.

A native Georgian, Stephen earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from North Georgia College and State University, a master’s in science education from the University of West Georgia, and a doctorate of philosophy in chemistry education from Auburn University.

“Kentucky has a great history of reform, of doing great things for Kentucky’s kids,” Pruitt said in a press release. “I think I bring a unique perspective to the position — having been a classroom teacher, which is where my heart will always be — to working at the state and national levels. I look forward to working with teachers, principals, superintendents, the Kentucky Department of Education staff, legislators and all of the education partners around the state to make the students of Kentucky prepared for their next step in life.”

Terry Holliday, the former commissioner, retired on Aug. 31.

Last week the Board of Education announced that that they were down to two finalists in their search for a new commissioner. Pruitt was one of two remaining candidates in the running for the commissioner position.

In the release the Ky. Department of Education says that the other candidate, Christopher Koch, the interim president of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and former Illinois commissioner of education, withdrew from consideration on Friday.

Once a background check on Pruitt is finalized a special meeting of the Board of Education will be called, and the board is expected to vote to offer Pruitt the job as commissioner, according to the release.

“Once the terms of the commissioner’s contract are negotiated, the board is expected to ratify it at the regular meeting on October 6.”

Associate Commissioner and General Counsel Kevin C. Brown is serving as interim commissioner until a new commissioner is approved by the board and can begin work.


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