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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2010

Selection of TPS chief is possible by Monday

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A new superintendent for Toledo Public Schools could be hired as soon as Monday at a specially called meeting.

But some cryptic comments from Board of Education President Bob Vasquez cast doubt on how unified board members are behind the current batch of three finalists.

The board announced the finalists this week and plans to conduct interviews Monday.

However, Mr. Vasquez also said yesterday, "I have been authorized by the board to say that if board members want to bring forward nontraditional candidates, they can."

That might include a business leader or some other executive-type without a traditional background in public education teaching and administration.

Other school districts across the nation have hired business executives and ex-military commanders to the top job with mixed results.

Mr. Vasquez said he doesn't have a candidate in mind, and "nobody has notified me up to this point. ... I am, as a board member, looking for a nontraditional candidate who could be a good selection, considering the challenges for our board."

Those challenges include massive budget deficits requiring layoffs and program cuts.

Mr. Vasquez made waves earlier this month when he released a plan to create a commission of experts from the higher-education and corporate worlds and from the community to overhaul TPS operations.

He said the district can't afford to live year to year and from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. Mr. Vasquez said a nontraditional superintendent might have the skills needed to implement a commission's potentially drastic reforms.

He said the public school system needs to update itself more than it already has. He said the world has a new economy, new technologies, and different students from changed family structures.

"The educational institution, the way we have it now, is a historical organization. It hasn't changed much since it was created," Mr. Vasquez said of K-12 public education. "We're in a new era; we have to go back and change history."

He has heard support and criticism for his idea on and off the five-member school board, he said.

The board chose three finalists this week out of a pool of six semifinalists:

• Richard Drury, ex-superintendent of Community H.S. District, Wheaton, Ill.

• Deborah Hunter-Harvill, ex-superintendent of Westwood Heights School District, Flint, Mich.

• Jerome Pecko, ex-superintendent of Springfield Local Schools near Akron.

Contact Christopher D.

Kirkpatrick at:

ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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