Sams tenders school board resignation

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Commissioner will appoint new member

By Ashley Sutter

Shelby County Board of Education member Karen Sams announced last week her decision to step down from her position on the board.  Sams, who has served on the Shelby County Board of Education since 2012, tendered her resignation to the board through a prepared statement on February 24 citing a conflicting work schedule.

Sams noted in her announcement, “Due to increased professional responsibilities, I will not be able to continue the level of commitment and participation that is due to our staff and students. My district warrants a representative that can be available every meeting. Unfortunately, I cannot rule out that new job responsibilities may interfere with future meeting dates.”

SCPS Superintendent James Neihof said he is appreciative of Sams and her years of service to Shelby County Public Schools. “She has been an advocate for our county’s children and their families,” he said in a prepared statement.  “I know the board joins me in wishing Karen all the best.”

Sams, who is a resident and representative of District 2, was recently elected to serve a term scheduled to end December 2020. She ran unopposed.

According to Kentucky Revised Statute, “any vacancy in any board of education shall be filled by the chief state school officer within ninety (90) days after the vacancy occurs. The member so chosen shall meet the eligibility requirements as established by KRS 160.180 and shall hold office until his successor is elected and has qualified. The local board of education may make nominations and any person may nominate himself or another for the office.”

Shelby County Public Schools Public Relations Coordinator Ryan Allan said the appointee could be anyone from District 2, which encompasses areas south of Shelbyville and east from KY 55.  A map of the district can be found on the district’s website at www.shelby.kyschools.us/Board. The new candidate must be appointed within 90 days of the resignation.

Allan said a person can self-nominate or the current board can make a recommendation. He added that in this particular situation, he believes Sams has offered her recommendation.

In her notification, Sams endorsed a resident of District 2 to fill her seat.

Sams confirmed that she has sent a recommendation to the commissioner and they are very eager to take the helm.  She noted the person in which she recommended was born and raised in Shelby County and has two children in the system.

“If it works out, it will be very good,” she said.

The statute explains that the commissioner’s appointee will serve until the next regularly scheduled Board of Education election - November 2018.

“The next general election will be for Mrs. [Joanna] Freels and Mr. [Andrew] Cline,” Allan explained, noting that while Sams’ seat will not yet be up for reelection it will be included on the ballot.  At that time, the election results will determine who completes the term. “So it will be for another two years.”

The appointee by the commissioner will complete the first two years of her remaining term and the elected candidate will serve the remaining two years. “That same person [commissioner’s appointee] could get elected again,” Allan noted.

He further added that her resignation would have no impact on the election cycle at the completion of her term in 2018.

Those who want to nominate someone for the position can contact the district office at 633-2375 for an application.

Allan said the district has little to do with the process aside from pointing those interested in the role in the right direction and they can also make recommendations.

However, the selection process is handled by the Kentucky Department of Education. 

The commissioner has a liaison that is working with the district to fill this seat.

Sams said the decision to step down was not an easy one.

“It was a very hard decision.  Quite frankly I feel very sad about it,” she said, noting, however, that because of a pending job promotion and the expansion of her duties she could no longer see herself giving 100 percent to the role, “Which it certainly deserves and needs.”

Sams, who has served on the board for five years, said she has enjoyed her role.

“My time on the board has been very precious,” she said. “I have tried to be very proactive both for our teachers and for our public.”

She added that she also plans to continue to stay involved in an unofficial capacity.

“I do want to stay very active,” she said. “There are a lot of things going on with the system that are extremely important to me.”