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By Jeff Moreland
The hiring process has been a long one to name the new superintendent of Washington County Schools. On Monday, however, the local school board spent little time at the start of its regularly scheduled meeting to vote upon and then introduce Rob Stafford as the next head of the school system.
Stafford, 41, is a native of Camargo, Ky., just east of Mount Sterling in Montgomery County. He currently serves as assistant superintendent in charge of district operations and student support services in the Owen County school system.
“We were looking for a community that was comparable, and this seems like a perfect fit and a perfect opportunity,” Stafford said. “It’s a great school system with a lot of support. We’re just really looking forward to getting located here and getting involved in the community.”
Stafford’s wife, Jennifer Hale Stafford, is a Berea College graduate. She is also in education, serving as principal of an Area Technology Center in Carrollton, Ky. The couple said they feel Washington County will be a good community for their family. They have a four-year-old daughter, Tylor, and are also expecting a son in November.
“When I came down here, it just seemed such a natural fit to me to what we were looking for, to be able to raise children in the community,” Stafford said. “What’s been done in the community is outstanding. You can tell that there’s been a lot of hard work and leadership here. It’s a beautiful little community.”
Stafford is a graduate of Montgomery County High School. He continued his education at Berea College where he earned a BA in economics. He later earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a Rank I in education administration from the University of Kentucky.
“I began my teaching career in Owen County as a seventh-grade social studies teacher. I worked as a middle school assistant principal, elementary principal, Kentucky Department of Education curriculum consultant, district finance director and director of pupil personnel,” Stafford said. “Along the way, I coached the middle school academic team and high school girls’ fast pitch softball.”
Stafford said he and his wife are looking forward to relocating, although Patsy Lester, chair of the local school board, said he will be allowed time to wrap things up at his current position.
Lester said 21 applicants showed interest in the open position when it was first listed, and a committee narrowed that list down to five before interviews began.
Leo Lyvers, a teacher at Washington County Middle School, served on that committee. He said he was proud of the work done by the committee, but was disappointed that none of the five recommendations of the committee was hired.
“As a part of the committee, I was disappointed in that. I really hoped they would go with our recommendation, and I know by law they don’t have to,” Lyvers said. “One of the other things I was disappointed in was that they didn’t involve the community or community members, which we had done in the past, which I thought was very important.”
Lester noted that the hiring process had been a long one, but she felt the board needed to take its time and make the best decision for the school district.
“We have been longer. It’s been a process. We had some candidates appear on the scene, then we postponed after Mr. Graves’ death,” she said. “We decided to not rush in and grab the first piece of pie.”
Stafford’s hiring was a unanimous decision by the board as they voted at Monday’s meeting.