Loading…
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Sunday, 5/23/2010

TPS feels pressure of time in search for superintendent

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bob Vasquez, left, Toledo Public Schools board president, says the process of filling the vacancy left by John Foley is continuing. Mr. Foley declined a one-year contract extension. Bob Vasquez, left, Toledo Public Schools board president, says the process of filling the vacancy left by John Foley is continuing. Mr. Foley declined a one-year contract extension.
Enlarge

If Toledo Public Schools officials don't like any of the seven superintendent semifinalists, the district would reopen the search and consider finding an interim chief, said Bob Vasquez, president of the Toledo Board of Education.

In that situation, the school board might ask current Superintendent John Foley to "extend his tenure," Mr. Vasquez said.

Mr. Foley declined a one-year extension to his three-year contract. He's scheduled to leave at the end of July and said Friday he doesn't have any specific plans or know what he "wants to do when he grows up."

He had no comment on the possibility of extending his stay and said he would have to talk to the board before he'd make any public comment about it.

Some, including a board member, have criticized the search process, saying it started too late and yielded only 16 complete applications. Several packets were thrown out because they were incomplete.

The board interviewed three candidates yesterday and plans to interview four tomorrow.

"The process is continuing," Mr. Vasquez said last night, declining to comment further.

Deborah Piotrowski, superintendent of Millcreek-West Unity Local school district, withdrew after accepting a superintendent job in Xenia, Ohio, several board members said.

<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/jpg/TO66067417.JPG> <b><font color=red>VIEW:</b></font color=red> <a href="/assets/pdf/TO72240523.PDF" target="_blank "><b>Click here to see Resumes of the Toledo Public Schools' superintendent candidates: </b></a> May 23, 2010 <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/jpg/TO66067417.JPG> <b><font color=red>VIEW:</b></font color=red> <a href="/assets/pdf/TO72240523.PDF" target="_blank "><b>Click here to see Resumes of the Toledo Public Schools' superintendent candidates: </b></a> May 23, 2010
Enlarge

Mr. Vasquez said the mid-June deadline to have someone in the job is not far away and several on the list are also finalists for other jobs.

Board member Larry Sykes said the board and public should have more time and not rush the process. He said he believes a job in a district as big as Toledo's should attract more interest from qualified candidates.

"I'm concerned that we have a time line and the fact that the community did not have adequate time to give input."

He said a public notice announcing a Tuesday, May 11, public hearing for residents to share ideas about necessary qualities for the next superintendent wasn't released until 4 p.m. the previous

Friday. Mr. Sykes said he has heard from residents and business leaders that there wasn't enough time for people to learn about the hearing, and many already had plans and couldn't attend. About 15 people were at the hearing.

Mr. Sykes also said information released to the public about the semifinalists has contained inaccuracies, such as labeling candidate Keith Bell a high school principal when he's an upper-level administrator in a Columbus-area school district. He's the brother of Toledo Mayor Mike Bell.

"The bottom line is we're responsible to the community to bring forward the best candidates," he said.

A new superintendent steps into a bleak budget situation in the wake of a failed levy.

The school board probably will ask the public for a new levy in November to help plug budget holes expected to open up because of loss of federal stimulus money, Mr. Vasquez said.

The county is likely to face future declining commercial property values and as a result diminishing property tax revenue for the school district, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez has said.

Some of the candidates come from small suburban or rural districts.

One candidate's system has about 700 students. TPS has about 26,000.

Mr. Vasquez said candidates shouldn't be judged on the size of their former districts and that he is looking for skills and qualities that can be put to good use in Toledo.

"The business principles are the same [at a smaller district], but the challenges are maximized by size," he said. "We do have unique challenges. [But] there are many more districts that are unlike the urban eight than are like us."

A Blade examination last week uncovered career controversies for three of the remaining seven semifinalists.

Eric Ely, superintendent of Schenectady City Schools in New York, was part of a criminal trial in March involving the district's head of facilities, Steven Raucci. Raucci was convicted in early April.

During the trial, prosecutors revealed several e-mails between Mr. Ely and Raucci, including one that appeared to tip Raucci off that he was under investigation.

Raucci was ultimately convicted of setting off pipe bombs outside homes and intimidating people he dubbed political or union foes. No one was injured.

Mr. Ely said he did nothing wrong and told the Albany Times Union newspaper that he and the district were unfairly dragged into the trial and that the few e-mails were mischaracterized.

Another candidate, Richard Drury, a former superintendent in the Wheaton, Ill., area, resigned March 9 after nearly three years on the job.

Mr. Drury said an agreement with his former school board prevented him from revealing details of his resignation. He said it related to differences over a budget deficit.

Another candidate, Deborah Hunter-Harvill, sued the Westwood Heights Board of Education near Flint, Mich., last fall. The parties settled this month. As part of the settlement, she resigned, according to the district's central office.

She and a school board member butted heads over her disciplining a principal for having a poker night fund-raiser at his school, according to published reports.

The last search for a TPS superintendent was fraught with complications.

Negotiations with the first choice, William Harner, an administrator from Philadelphia, died. His requirement that he live outside the district was unacceptable, the board said at the time.

The yearlong search ended with the board offering the job to Mr. Foley in 2007. He was the interim leader and had served as chief of staff under former superintendent Eugene Sanders.

Mr. Vasquez said some issues can be explained sufficiently by candidates in person and that they should have that chance.

The Blade received copies of the candidates' resumes. The other candidates are:

•Mr. Bell, the brother of Mayor Mike Bell.

He's the director of secondary academic affairs for Westerville City Schools, which has more than 13,000 students and is just outside Columbus. Mr. Bell is in charge of the district's middle and high school principals and helps develop the district's curriculum and manages student assessment.

•Yvonne Bullock, superintendent of the Meridian Community Unified School District, Mounds, Ill.

The district reported a total enrollment last year of about 700 students.

•Jerome Pecko, former superintendent with Springfield Local Schools near Akron. The district has about 2,400 students.

•Walter Calinger, superintendent of the Woodland Hills School District.

It's just outside of Pittsburgh and has an enrollment of about 4,500 students.

Contact Christopher D.

Kirkpatrick at:

ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.