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Published: Wednesday, 1/30/2013

Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Jerome Pecko to step down when contract expires

Jerome "Jerry" Pecko, Superintendent of the Toledo Public Schools, will not continue in that position after his contract expires this summer. Jerome "Jerry" Pecko, Superintendent of the Toledo Public Schools, will not continue in that position after his contract expires this summer.
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Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Jerome Pecko will part ways with the district when his contract runs out this summer, pushing the Toledo Board of Education into a search for a new top administrator.

After a lengthy closed door board meeting tonight to discuss his performance, Mr. Pecko announced he would not accept a renewal of his contract when it ends July 31. It was unclear after the meeting if Mr. Pecko was offered a contract renewal by the board and he declined, or if he chose the separation.

Board President Brenda Hill declined to comment about whether the board offered a contract renewal, claiming she was legally prohibited from disclosing conversations held in a closed session. Mr. Pecko said he felt the board and he mutually agreed his leaving would work out best for both sides.

A longtime teacher and administrator, Mr. Pecko was not definitive that he would retire after his contract with TPS runs out. But he said the job has long days and heavy demands, and for the last several months he has considered whether he wanted to continue running a school district.

"When I walk out of here I won't have a job," he said, "and I'm not in a hurry to have one."

Mr. Pecko had said in advance of today's meeting that he wanted to stay at TPS, but only if he had board support. Ms. Hill wouldn't say after the meeting if Mr. Pecko had that support.

Mr. Pecko will remain superintendent until his contract runs out, and he said he would work diligently until then.

"I've enjoyed the three years I've had in the district," he said. "I feel we've made some progress."

Mr. Pecko, 66, was hired in July, 2010, to replace John Foley. He was given a three-year contract that was to pay him $175,000 annually. Before Toledo, he was superintendent of the Springfield and Barberton systems, and an educator in Akron City Schools.

Since he was hired, TPS moved to a district-wide K-8 model, revamped its special education delivery system, won large concessions from employee unions, and instituted several reform efforts. But the district also failed to pass two levies, and slipped a ranking on state report cards. Passage of a levy and improving TPS report card ratings were among six goals in Mr. Pecko's contract.

With Mr. Pecko's impending departure, the board will have to begin a search for a new superintendent. Ms. Hill said the board has not decided if it will begin a search for a replacement while Mr. Pecko is still at the district's helm, or if the board will wait until he leaves. The board could hire an interim replacement and hold a prolonged search, or even hire internally, she said.

Meanwhile, district leaders will almost certainly place a renewal levy on the ballot later this year, will find out today the state's new school funding formula, has a bid to take over a major Head Start grant, is in the midst of a performance audit, and starts negotiations soon with its employee unions. The district will also find out in two weeks the result of a statewide investigation into possible school data manipulation that was prompted in part by revelations of data practices in TPS.

"There is a lot we have to do right now," Ms. Hill said.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.


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