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UCS Superintendent Fights Hard for Job in Kentucky

Dr. Christine Johns fielded questions Monday evening in Kentucky, as parents asked how she will help the Jefferson County School District if she became the superintendent.

Utica Community Schools Superintendent Christine Johns is in the fight of her career as she fielded questions for more than an hour Monday night in Louisville, KY, according to WHAS-TV 11 in Kentucky.

Several days after the considered for the superintendent post of the 100,000-plus-student school district, she appeared before parents in a public forum.

On Tuesday evening, the other candidate, Donna Hargens of North Carolina, will go before the public to share her vision of the district’s future.

According to WHAS 11, Johns, who took many questions during the hour-and-a-half forum, prefaced most of her answers by saying she wasn’t completely familiar with the district yet, so she could not provide specific solutions for JCPS.

"What I want to say to you in closing is I don't know everything, but I do know that if we work together we can achieve great things," Johns told WHAS 11.

Johns, 45, continues to drive home her experience as a superintendent at UCS since 2006. Before then, she was the deputy superintendent at Baltimore County Schools.

Hargens, 53, is the chief academic officer for the Wake County Public Schools, a district with 143,000 students in Raleigh, NC. She has served as interim superintendent and deputy superintendent in the district.

“I am a veteran superintendent with five years of experience dealing with raising performance in a high performing school district and at the same time managing some very difficult issues as related to the budget,” Johns told Fox41, the Fox affiliate in Louisville.

Johns has stressed that UCS has more students taking Advanced Placement courses since she took over, and she has put in place international baccalaureate and Chinese language programs.

Kelly Riley, who has worked in the UCS school district for years, and currently has two children and an exchange student at UCS, said initially she was excited about the changes Johns made to the district, but then Johns’ intense push for AP coursework and the international program turned her off.

“Parents wouldn’t be sad to see her go. I hate to say this,” said Riley. "It’s been thrown at us, this AP-driven, college culture.

“As parents we tried to tell her ‘yes’ we agree every student needs to be pushed and everyone needs postgraduate college but not everyone is cut out for the AP,” Riley said.

Riley said Johns placed too much emphasis on elite coursework and did not pay enough attention and funding to the normal coursework.

"The average student is getting left out. All the drive is for the AP classes and all the other classes are falling by the (wayside),” said Riley. “The International Academy is awesome but it's taking the best and brightest teachers from the other schools and placing them there.”

UCS School Board Trustee Gene Klida said Johns has done a great job in raising student curriculum while slashing millions from the district’s budget.

“When she (Johns) came we had no idea the budget situation in Michigan was going to get the way it did. And given her job, I think she did a great job here in UCS,” said Klida.

Klida added that if Johns has the opportunity to help more children at a bigger district achieve greatness, then she would not be sad to see her go.

“It was a win-win situation,” said Klida.

Johns is expected to return to Michigan in time for Monday night’s UCS Board of Education meeting.

Chip Dip June 08, 2011 at 02:14 AM
It cracked me up when I read in another online article that Dr. John's was described as personable. When she leaves Utica Community Schools, I bet they replace her with a robot and no one would notice the difference. Dr. John's may know her way around statistics and budgets, but she has no people skills whatsoever. If you want someone to focus on test scores, she's your girl. If you want someone to inspire teachers, parents, and kids, then keep shopping.
Jackie June 08, 2011 at 02:23 AM
Wow, so true. I am so disgusted with her emphasis on AP classes in the high school, and her insistence on college being the best choice for everyone. And don't even get me started on her super-sized bodyguard. Please, Kentucky, do us a favor and take her!
UCS Watchdog June 08, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Dr. Johns has been a disaster for UCS. She has chased off countless administrators with her iron-fisted management style, destroyed morale for the thousands of employees, and implemented curriculum that makes it impossible for "every child to succeed". You simply cannot expect 29,000 kids all to be advanced placement college students - you are setting up too many kids for failure. Under her direction Utica Community Schools has simply become Utica Schools - the "Community" aspect has disappeared. She is the worst kind of politician - polite to your face and only when she needs to be. She also has no clue on budget - the district continues to waste money left and right, pitting employee groups against each other. The situation in Michigan is tough, but not insurmountable.
Upset Mom June 13, 2011 at 05:55 PM
UCS watchdog hit the nail on the head!
a worker November 25, 2012 at 10:33 AM
I second the words spoken above. I have found not one person that has anything good to say about her. She needs to be replaced.... Soon... before it's too late. Here's a scarey thought.... What happens when their new cleaning crew (GCA) screws up so bad that it can' t be covered up? They have had a lot of close calls (ie... Stevenson) . What happens then? It takes experience and dedication to keep a school in shape and working well. What happens when GCA gets the boot? Who is going to keep the schools running properly? The past dedicated custodians are GONE. Who's going to fill there shoes? These questions need to be direcred to the UCS BOE and Dr Johns/Hanes. They have no plan B because there is no good plan.They painted themselves into a corner and there is no way out.

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