New Clark Co. interim superintendent speaks on why he took job, challenges the district faces

Published 12:00 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

The Clark County Public Schools (CCPS) Board of Education voted to hire Dr. Elmer Thomas as the district’s interim superintendent on July 5th, following its mutual parting with Dr. Molly McComas in June.

Thomas is a veteran educator who served as superintendent of Madison County Schools from 2013 until his retirement in 2018. He served as interim superintendent for Danville Independent Schools for most of the 2021-22 school year.

Thomas did not seek out the job. Instead, the board came to him.

“I did not expect it,” he said. “The board reached out to me and talked to me about taking this role.”

So why did the board reach out to Thomas?

He thinks it is because of his ability to metaphorically steady the ship.

“I think I can flatten things out and lay a great leadership foundation,” Thomas said.

When asked for comment for a previous story about Thomas’ hire, board chair Megan Hendricks and former board member Brenda Considine replied they were impressed with his calm demeanor and ability to bring a school district together.

And there is a need for a steady hand as the district tries to tackle many of the challenges facing American education today.

“I know we are no different from any industry in Kentucky and any in America in that we are having a difficult time getting workers,” Thomas said. “We are doing pretty well on teachers, but certainly when you start looking at bus drivers – transportation employees – and special education teachers, which has been a difficult area for years, we are no different than anybody else in that we are having a difficult time getting workers.”

The length of an interim stint as a superintendent can last for a few weeks or months, depending on how long it takes the board of education to select a permanent superintendent.

“I was in Danville from [last] October until the end of June,” Thomas said about his last interim job.

The Danville Board of Education took its time with the superintendent search and did not post the job “until December or January.” Thomas recalled.

So far, this is no set timetable for when or how long the CCPS Board of Education’s search for a new superintendent will last.

One thing is for sure, Thomas said he will be an interim superintendent available to district employees.

“You have to be available to listen and plan … And make positive things happen by listening,” Thomas said about his approach as a leader. “You also have to empower people to do the job that they were hired to do.”