Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

Beyond the Board

Brandon Rutherford

Brandon Rutherford, Madison County Schools  

Kentucky School Advocate
December 2023

Q: You first ran for school board in 2018 and have been re-elected. What made you want to serve?

Madison County is the ninth-largest county in Kentucky in terms of geography. I wanted to be the voice for southern Madison County. The demographics are different between different ends of the county. My area is more rural; northern Madison is more of a metro area. That means the schools are different.

Q: You’re adamant that school board offices remain nonpartisan, but you are active politically. Why do you think it is important for school boards to remain nonpartisan?

The main reason is I’m a federal firefighter, which means I cannot be in a partisan position. There are other school board members out there who are federal employees. And I believe partisanship doesn’t belong in the school system. I am very conservative, but I have no problem giving our kids whatever tools they need to learn and grow. I don’t think there should be party lines when it comes to educating our kids.

Q: Tell us a little about your work as a firefighter.

I did two years as a volunteer firefighter in Richmond then was hired full time. I made captain at the Richmond Fire Department at 20, the youngest ever to make captain there. I also served a year in Iraq as a contract firefighter. For the past 20 years I have been at the Bluegrass Army Depot, which is under the Department of the Army. I’m a station chief. We have a daily training routine, do thorough cleanings and have emergency runs. We work 48 hours on and 72 hours off. That gives me three days off to invest in the school system.

Q: You visit schools a lot. Why is that valuable to you?

This morning, for example, I went to our new Ignite Academy South and talked to the dean about finding some instructional aids for our diesel mechanics class.

Q: You have spoken out about the need for school board members to be in the schools.

Without going to the schools, how do I know what is going on or what teachers, principals and students need? It might be as simple as looking at the football locker room and saying, ‘Man, this is in bad shape. We need to redo this.’ Or talking to the cafeteria lady who says, ‘Next time we build a school, we don’t need to build it in this shape because it’s really hard for us to reach across and put the food on the plate because it’s in a corner.’

Q: What are some projects your board is working on that make you excited about the future?

Over the last few years and then into the future, we’ve been focused on our facilities. A couple of our schools were built in the 1930s. We’re replacing our two older schools, a middle school that’s under construction, and an elementary school that we just purchased land for.

Getting to know

Station chief, Bluegrass Army Depot

Hometown: Berea area

Family: Wife, Sherry; adult sons, Justin and Tristan

Favorite subject: Shop and agriculture

Hobbies: My wife and I like to travel in our RV. Our big trip each year is to Walt Disney World.

Book recommendation: “To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire” by David Cowan and John Kuenster. I first read it 25 years ago. It’s a true story about a fire in a Chicago elementary school that killed 92 kids. Many of the rules we follow in schools today are because of that fire. I’ve shared it with principals and our superintendent. One said, ’Now I see why we do all the things we do.’

Interesting fact: I collect things that belonged to or were made by my ancestors. A violin that my great-great-great grandmother brought over from Germany got me started on this path. I got it from one of my grandfather’s cousins in Florida. I also acquired a kitchen table that belonged to my great-great-grandmother. It came from one of her descendants in Indiana. My great-grandfather recaned chair bottoms so I search flea markets and auctions for those. He always signed his name and dated his work. As soon as I flip a chair over, I know if he did the work because he always said the bottom should look as good as the top. I’ve found about six chairs he recaned so far.

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