SWANTON - Within a few hours of being hired, Robin Rayfield was in the office, ready to begin the transition process as he takes over the position of superintendent of Swanton Local Schools.
He didn't have any trouble finding the place. Mr. Rayfield, who officially started his duties here earlier this week, is familiar with the town and the school district. Former principal of Pike-Delta-York High School, Mr. Rayfield has lived in nearby Delta the last 18 years.
He remembers when Swanton was the "preferred district in the area," and he's interested in returning the district to that preferred status. "I think we need to get it back to being the brand name, the choice, so to speak," he said. "It will be a daunting task, but I am excited about giving it a try."
The school board last week hired Mr. Rayfield under a two-year contract with a starting salary of $77,000. He replaces Kevin McQuade, who is retiring from his post at the end of the year.
Mr. McQuade said he knows that the Swanton Board of Education is "pleased to have someone on board" with Mr. Rayfield's experience and expertise. Mr. Rayfield, 47, has a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Toledo. He has been an assistant professor at UT since 2000. He earned his master's degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 1987 and a bachelor of science degree from UT in 1978.
In addition to serving as Pike-Delta-York High School principal in 1991, he has served as an assistant principal, athletic director, and teacher in that district. He also has coached several sports.
Since January, Mr. Rayfield has been a member of the Pike-Delta-York Board of Education. It was a "very humbling" experience to be elected by the voters last fall, and he said that he doesn't take his board position lightly, but he will resign that position. Leaving the board will be difficult, but he said he needs to devote his full attention to Swanton schools.
Mr. Rayfield is optimistic that the voters in Swanton will approve a levy renewal this fall. He said that he is aware of how important this levy is to the financial stability of the district and that there is an urgency -something akin to a team looking for the big win as the game clock runs out. "There is no tomorrow. We have to get it done this time," he said.
Earlier this month residents in the district narrowly defeated a 4.34-mill levy renewal issue. If the levy renewal is turned down in November, the district could face a deficit by next summer.
Russ Griggs, superintendent of the Pike-Delta-York schools, said Mr. Rayfield is a good fit with Swanton because "he's been in the area a long time. He is familiar with the district with it being right next door. He is familiar with the challenges, and he is familiar with academics and athletics and knows the importance of those programs to students. With his higher education background, he certainly has shown his interest in academics. I am pleased to see him get the job."
Mr. Griggs said that he anticipates that the P-D-Y board will take applications and resumes from people interested in filling the vacancy on the board when Mr. Rayfield resigns. Resumes then would be reviewed and candidates interviewed, and then the board would select a new member, he said.
In addition to working with Mr. Rayfield during the transition period, Mr. McQuade will handle special assignments before he retires in December, including working on planning and development for permanent improvement projects that are expected to get under way next summer.