Jeffco Superintendent Jason Glass to lead Kentucky as its next education commissioner

Jeffco superintendent Jason Glass at the Boys & Girls in Lakewood (Marissa Page, Chalkbeat).

Jeffco Superintendent Jason Glass has been selected as Kentucky’s next education commissioner, the state’s Board of Education announced on Friday morning.

Glass, 48, was one of three finalists for the job and will leave Colorado’s second largest district after serving as superintendent since 2017. The Kentucky board plans to finalize Glass’ contract in the next several days and didn’t announce a start date.

“I am excited to welcome this native Kentuckian home to begin the tough, but rewarding, work we have ahead,” board Chair Lu Young said.

Glass’ original Jeffco Public Schools contract was from 2017-20, but the school board extended it to 2025 last year. Glass can terminate his contract if he gives 60 days notice to the board, according to the contract.

Glass began his education career in Kentucky after completing his college education there.

“I am excited for this opportunity to serve the commonwealth and I am excited to embark on this effort to improve the future for all of Kentucky’s children,” Glass said to the Kentucky board after the announcement of his appointment.

Jeffco board President Susan Harmon, in a statement, congratulated Glass on his appointment as Kentucky commissioner and said over the past three years he has been a visionary leader for the district.

Glass was hired as Jeffco superintendent in 2017 after a full turnover of the board that included a recall election of three conservative board members.

Harmon said Glass reinvigorated the district strategic plan to focus on student learning and brought it to life in classrooms.

He also worked to pass a mill levy override and a school construction bond. Harmon also said Glass’ foresight in transition to one-to-one student-to-device technology helped transform in-person learning, but also prepare the district to immediately respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While Dr. Glass’s departure is a loss to Jefferson County and our district, we understand the draw of returning to his home state for his family and his continuing career in education,” Harmon said in the statement. “We wish him the very best on this new endeavor.”

Before leading Jefferson County schools, Glass was superintendent of the school district in Eagle County, Colorado. He also previously held a role in Iowa as state education leader where the Republican governor who appointed Glass called him a “reform-minded leader.”

But Glass said his time in Iowa and Eagle changed his thoughts on some education reforms, including performance pay for teachers. Glass also became critical of testing in Colorado and said he wanted charter schools to meet high bars if they were to operate in a district.

Glass, in an email to Jeffco parents and teachers, said the pull to his home state is strong despite his having lived in Colorado for 17 years.

“Our family has loved living in Jeffco and our children have received an exceptional education thanks to Jeffco Public Schools,” he said in the email. “I have loved working with the incredibly talented people throughout this organization and will miss the powerful commitment to quality and community that I have seen and learned from in Jeffco. Above all else, we are grateful.”

Glass said he will work with the Jeffco board and his cabinet to put together a transition process. The email said the board will announce the formal transition plans.

Glass succeeds Wayne Lewis as state commissioner. Lewis left after Gov. Andy Beshear turned over the state board when he was elected to office.

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