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When interviewing for the Marion County superintendent position in March, Chuck Hamilton told community leaders and the board of education that he would be a superintendent somewhere, even if it weren't here.
And he meant it.
Last week, he was named the next superintendent of Mercer County schools.
The Mercer County Board of Education made the announcement during a special-called meeting Thursday.
"Considering the challenges and opportunities facing our district, the board felt it necessary to hire an individual with a diverse skill set," Board Chairwoman Margaret Britton said during the board's meeting Thursday evening.
Friday afternoon, Britton said she and the board were extremely excited to have Hamilton coming to their district. Out of the 40 educators who applied, five of which were interviewed, Hamilton had the most to offer, she said.
"We saw many different areas that he had experience in," Britton said. "His financing, his teaching, he had lots of different things he could bring to the district."
Hamilton's contract with Mercer County will begin July 1, and his starting salary will be $105,000. His contract with the Mercer County school district will run through June 30, 2013.
Hamilton has held a variety of positions in his educational career. He has been the finance and personnel director for Marion County Public Schools for approximately five years and has served as a teacher and a principal prior to that. He was one of four finalists for the position of Marion County superintendent.
Ironically, the person the Marion County Board of Education hired, Donald Smith, was born and raised in Mercer County and has spent part of his career working in the district.
"It's interesting. It's kind of like the old movie 'Trading Places,'" Smith said, with a laugh, during a telephone interview Friday.
Smith said he thinks he and Hamilton can be great support systems for each other while learning the ropes in Marion and Mercer counties.
"I know a lot about Mercer County and he knows a lot about Marion County," Smith said. "I think we can help each other out. But I hate to lose him. It's a sad day for Marion County schools because he has given his life to Marion County so far."
According to Hamilton, he has worked the past 15 years of his career planning to serve as a superintendent and that the Mercer County job felt like a good fit due to the similarities between the Mercer County and Marion County school districts. After his interview with the Mercer County Board of Education, he felt confident about his chances of getting the job, he said.
"I felt very good about my connection with the board members in my interview," Hamilton said. "The questions they asked indicated their goals for the district and my experience and personal beliefs made it appear we would be a good match."
According to Hamilton, Mercer County already has a great team in place and the district has students and academic programs that receive state and national recognition regularly. The district's performance on state assessment is good and with some collaboration they can be great, he said. On top of academic success, the district's facilities are second to none, Hamilton said. (Mercer County has a second nickel).
Three years ago, the Mercer and Harrodsburg districts merged, and that reorganization appears to have been done with "dignity," Hamilton said.
What challenges lie ahead for Hamilton and the Mercer County school district?
"As far as a challenge, my own belief is to establish a strong community support network and develop a transparent means of communication and sharing," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he hopes to be as involved in the Mercer County community as he has been in Marion County.
"I already have an invitation to visit a church and the Rotary Club," Hamilton said. "I believe full emersion in the community is important to developing understanding and making decisions that will have life-long ramifications for the youth of Mercer County."
Hamilton and his family plan to move to Mercer County but will maintain a home in Marion County as well for his older children who will both be in college.
Hamilton's last day in the Marion County school district will be June 30, which will also be Roger Marcum's final day as the Marion County superintendent.
During the past 10 years, Marcum has served as Hamilton's immediate supervisor and he said he has observed, first hand, Hamilton's professional growth and preparation to be a superintendent in the state of Kentucky.
"Mr. Hamilton's leadership has contributed significantly to the continuous improvement of MCPS over the past 10 years," Marcum said. "I am confident Mercer County Public Schools will make continuous progress under his highly capable leadership. Mr. Hamilton deserves this opportunity and I am very happy for him and his family. I wish him the very best as he begins this new opportunity in his career as a professional educator."
According to Hamilton, Marcum has been a mentor to him, and his experiences in Marion County have helped him see what can be accomplished in a school district.
"I have been a part of some very productive times in Marion County and learned from both successes and mistakes," Hamilton said. "Mr. Marcum has been a great mentor and the employees of the Marion County school system, from server to supervisor, have shown what can be accomplished with a clear vision, focused goals and teamwork."