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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2004

Woodmore: Superintendent handling school woes with care

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It s been a rough year at Woodmore schools, but fledgling superintendent Michael Eaglowski has taken it in stride.

Mr. Eaglowski, 44, previously headed the New Reigel, Arcadia, and Lakota school districts. He started full-time at Woodmore in August.

“I ve really enjoyed the kids. We have a large percentage of kids who take education seriously,” Mr. Eaglowski said. “People in this community realize the importance of a quality education and the benefits it can bring.”

He said Woodmore stands out from other districts he has worked in because parents are so involved in their children s studies. Mr. Eaglowski said parents interest makes it easier to educate students, noting that the district has few discipline problems.

When Mr. Eaglowski talks about his job, every sentence begins with the word “we,” referring to the district as a whole. We need to keep a high academic rating. We must be careful about spending. We have a strong staff.

Taking a power trip is not Mr. Eaglowksi s style. Ted Keller, elementary school principal, said the superintendent is always professional, but approachable.

“He likes the staff to use his first name, and of course none of us can pronounce his last name, so we all call him Mike,” Mr. Keller said. “His door is always open for us.”

Mr. Eaglowski said recent accusations of misconduct against the coach of the high school boys varsity wrestling team have made it difficult for him to support staff members and uphold his duty to students.

Coach John Bedford was charged last month with compelling prostitution, a third-degree felony. The charges stem from allegations that he solicited sex from six female students at the high school.

“You have to deal with it very cautiously,” Mr. Eaglowski said. “You have to stay in the middle of everything and not choose a side.”

The district faced problems earlier when Patrick Sweeney, the former high school principal, resigned in December. A group of parents complained a year ago to the school board, saying that Mr. Sweeney was unprofessional and overly authoritarian.

The school board appointed assistant high school principal Hobart Johnson acting principal. Mr. Eaglowski said a top priority is to fill the principal s spot permanently.

Another challenge for the district will be to prepare for the new state-mandated 10th grade Ohio Graduation Test, Mr. Eaglowski said.

“We don t know what it will be like, but we hear it s very, very difficult,” he said. “Now that you have testing done at every level, it puts a lot of stress on staff and students.”

This spring Mr. Eaglowski will guide the district in developing a strategic plan. Later in the year, the district will probably launch an operating levy, he said. Officials project a deficit for the 2005-2006 school year.

Mr. Eaglowski, who lives just outside New Reigel with his wife and three children, said he wants to continue meeting parents and residents of the Woodmore district.

“The people are friendly. They are very willing to come up to me,” he said. “I m not the most social person, so I appreciate it when people introduce themselves.”

Dean Sandwisch, a school board member who has dealt with two previous superintendents, said he is very pleased with Mr. Eaglowski and finds him very willing to communicate openly with school board members.

“He kind of walked into a hornet s nest, and he s handled it with tremendous grace,” Mr. Sandwisch said. “I am pleased with how he handles crisis situations, and his goals and visions for the future are what the district needs.”



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