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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2012

Rossford residents outline ideal superintendent traits

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perfection won't be found in this life, but that didn't keep Rossford school administrators last week from hoping, as they outlined ideal qualities they'd like to see in the new superintendent the district is looking for. 

Their wish list was extensive:

Someone who lives in the district or nearby, understands curriculum, has experience in building or upgrading facilities, wants to be involved in the community, has been a superintendent before, isn't a double-dipping retiree, has a knowledge of technology and special education, is able to achieve consensus, and can get along with people -- these are among the desired qualities.

And they would be in addition to the usual strengths the leader of a school system is expected to have, such as  being a child-oriented decision maker with a knowledge of financial management.

Such was the input directed at the district's consultant from the Ohio School Boards Association, which is being paid $6,900 to conduct the superintendent's search. Cheryl Ryan took down the suggestions and will forward them to the Board of Education as a profile of the "superperson" described to her. 

Ms. Ryan held one focus session in the Bulldog Center and four in the high school auditorium for community members and district staffers. The new superintendent will replace Bill McFarland, who is serving on an interim basis this school year.

Glenwood Elementary School principal Jeff Taylor said he would like to see a good problem solver in the superintendent's job, but he also wanted "someone who is upbeat and positive and not negative."

Mr. Taylor and Pat Murtha, assistant high school principal, agreed that a candidate who was a retired superintendent supplementing his or her pension would be a negative, if not necessarily a deal breaker. This elicited agreement from other attendees, who worried that a retiree might not have the sense of commitment the district wanted.

Ms. Ryan didn't disagree, but noted that "there are retirees retiring at a really young age who have a lot to give."

When the topic turned to the biggest challenges the district faces, Rossford's aged and well-worn school buildings came up.

The school system is in the process of determining what to do to bring its physical plant up to par. Garmann Miller Architects-Engineers is inspecting the buildings and is to report its findings to the school board by the end of the month. The district's master plan steering committee then will present these findings to the public at a 7 p.m. meeting  on Jan. 17 in the high school auditorium.

Because of this, Ron Weaks, the district's buildings and grounds supervisor, said he would like to see a superintendent with experience in renovating or building new school facilities.

Rick Lees, a retired teacher who attended the first focus session, in the Bulldog Center conference room, said the district needed a superintendent proficient in getting levies approved by the voters.

To which Ken Gwozdz, a community member, responded: "That would probably mean someone familiar with the community."

When the session was done, Holly Schmidbauer, principal at Indian Hills Elementary, pronounced herself happy with the give and take. "It was worthwhile. I want them to find someone who's really a good fit for Rossford," she said.



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