Education

The Kentucky Board of Education has selected Wayne Lewis to be its permanent Commissioner of Education.

The state education department said in a Twitter message Tuesday that the board has given chairman Hal Heiner the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with Lewis.  No other candidates were interviewed for the permanent post.

Following the vote, Dr. Lewis said he’s right where he wants to be.

“We do have incredible momentum,” he said. “We’ve built an incredible team and there’s not an agency in the country where I would want to be other than here.”

The state board of education gave Lewis high marks in a performance evaluation prior to voting to offer him the job permanently.

Lewis was named interim commissioner in April, following the resignation of previous commissioner Stephen Pruitt.

One of Lewis’ first official acts was to recommend a state takeover of Jefferson County Public Schools. A takeover was avoided after a settlement was reached between the state education department and JCPS.

Lewis’ appointment was criticized Tuesday by the state Democratic caucus.

“In another move to implement charter schools in Kentucky, the Governor has appointed Wayne Lewis as the state’s education commissioner. Though we need to make changes to our educational system, we fear that the Governor is taking us down a dangerous path that will cause unquestionable harm to public education in the commonwealth,” lawmakers wrote in an email.

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Managing Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.