Heath Cartwright, a former assistant superintendent and interim superintendent for the McCracken County School District, was selected to serve as the interim superintendent for the Caldwell County School District.
The decision was made Thursday at a special meeting of the Caldwell County Board of Education.
Cartwright served as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for McCracken County from July 2010 to June 2020, when he retired from the school system.
He served as the district’s interim superintendent from March 2019 to June 2020. He was approved by the McCracken County School Board within a week of the resignation of former superintendent Brian Harper and was succeeded by current superintendent Steve Carter.
Cartwright was a teacher at Adair County and Paducah Tilghman High Schools and served as the principal at the former Ledbetter Elementary School in Livingston County in the 2001-02 school year and at Heath Elementary from 2002 to 2008.
He was also the McCracken County district technology director of professional development from 2008 to 2010.
Cartwright said he spent most of his childhood in Caldwell County.
“My family is from here, going back several generations,” he said. “My grandmother still lives here; she’s 91. We still have family property here in Caldwell County and come back here as much as we can.
“I went to school here in Caldwell County. I went to a Catholic kindergarten here in town, and I went to school here up until high school.”
Cartwright said he pursued the interim superintendent position because this was his hometown.
“This is where my family’s from,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for a position. I was enjoying my time with family and grandkids, but to help out my hometown school district, there’s an honor associated with that.
“I don’t have any desire to serve as a superintendent long-term, but to step in and help out the district as long as they need it.”
Board Chair Tim Kennaday said the board reached out to retired superintendents to fill the interim superintendent position.
“They gave me some names, and we decided on which ones we wanted to interview,” he said. “Heath brings a lot of knowledge, being an assistant superintendent of a big district. McCracken had some issues, a couple of different times, and he filled that interim superintendent role, so we knew he could do it.
“We also thought that maybe we didn’t need to go with the interim candidate that was going to be a candidate for superintendent. When (Cartwright) said that he wasn’t going to be that, (that helped with the decision).”
Kennaday said he thought that Cartwright was “a great fit” for the Caldwell County School District.
“He’s from Caldwell; he knows people, and he’s worked in different districts,” Kennaday said. “He’s been in technology, been in finance, he’s been a principal at two different schools, and he was a teacher before that.
“I’m just excited that he’s coming here to fill the role for nine for 10 months, whatever it is — and he also said that he would stay longer if we couldn’t find somebody (as a full-time superintendent).”
The board also voted to modify the 2020-21 school calendar to have the first day for students moved from Aug. 12 to Aug. 24. Teachers would still report for their first day on Aug. 10.
“That way, we’ll be able to do the 1,062 (instruction) hours,” said board member Stacy Brantley. “If something did happen to where a school would have to close down for a while, a teacher would be able to build the hours back.
“The middle and the high schools go longer than they’re supposed to, anyway. They might have to add time to the primary and the elementary (schools).”
Kennaday reminded the board that the plan is all subject to change with the uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That doesn’t determine whether we’re going to go to school, whether we’re going to have (non-traditional instruction), whether we’re going to have a hybrid schedule (part at home and part at school) — what we’re going to do.”