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Published: Sunday, 4/1/2007

School boards embark upon important task

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Washington Local Board of Education sits down Tuesday evening to start a superintendent search for the first time in 13 years - what some call a school board's most important duty.

Although it may only be coincidence, at least three other northwest Ohio school boards - Rossford, Perrysburg, and Fulton County's Gorham Fayette Local - are looking for superintendents. At the same time, the Toledo Board of Education is negotiating with the man it wants to become its next school leader.

The Ohio School Boards Association, which handles about 30 superintendent searches a year, says the number of local vacancies is not unusual.

"There seemed to be a spike in regard to superintendent vacancies but it's leveling off now," said Al Meloy, deputy director of search services and board development for the association.

"It's not uncommon because generally we find these superintendents last about three to five years," he said.

Washington Local Superintendent Michael Carmean announced last month he would retire.

Mr. Carmean, 57, who has been head of the 6,900-student district since 1994, said health problems contributed to his decision to step down.

He is paid a $156,328 base salary, a $4,000 educational stipend, and a $6,600 unspecified stipend.

Board President Lisa Canales said the district would do a national search, but she is hopeful of finding the next superintendent closer to home.

"I'm hoping what we need for Washington Local is right in our own backyard," she said. "You can look high and low, but I am very much about promoting from within."

Perrysburg Schools Superintendent Michael Cline is leaving to take a pay cut of more than $20,000 to head the Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center in Mansfield, Ohio - just seven miles from his hometown of Lexington, Ohio.

Mr. Cline said he agreed last month to a four-year contract with a beginning salary of $100,000 to be superintendent for the service center that covers 19 school districts and about 28,000 students in Richland, Crawford, and Morrow counties.

Mr. Cline, 56, is in his sixth year as the head of Perrysburg Schools. He told the Perrysburg Board of Education that he will finish out the school year in the Toledo suburb.

Walt Edinger, president of the Perrysburg Board of Education, said the Ohio School Boards Association would handle its search.

Right now, it doesn't have any potential local candidates for the job.

In Rossford, Superintendent Luci Gernot has accepted a job as the assistant superintendent of the Wood County Educational Service Center. She said she would begin her new job Aug. 1 at a salary of $89,000 annually.

Mrs. Gernot was hired as the Rossford district's chief in 2002 and is paid $110,689.

Rossford Board President Mike McAlear said the board hasn't discussed its strategy for a search.

Twenty-two people - mostly former northwest Ohio superintendents and principals- have applied for the Gorham Fayette Local superintendent position.

Superintendent Dave Hankins, who has been superintendent of the 525-student Gorham Fayette since 2003, announced this winter that he would retire at the end of December.

Among the applicants are Thomas Baker, the former Lucas County Educational Service Center superintendent who resigned in August, 2005, after it was determined he improperly approved contracts among the service center and 78 of its charter schools statewide.

Russ Griggs, a Fulton Township resident who led Evergreen and Pike-Delta-York school districts before becoming superintendent of Stryker Local in Williams County in 2005, also applied.

Mr. Meloy said school districts can expect superintendents to stay in one place for shorter spans of time and fewer candidates for vacancies than in the past.

"It's not a long-tenured position as it was in the past," he said.

"And the pool quantity is not what it once was. The quality is still there, but we don't have the numbers."

Toledo Public Schools had 22 applicants for its superintendent job. The board ultimately picked William Harner, a regional superintendent and special assistant to the chief executive of the Philadelphia School District.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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