Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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TPS board to consider search for superintendent this month


Chris Varwig, booster president at Bowsher High School, writes down improvement suggestions during the public hearing.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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The Toledo Board of Education likely will hold a special meeting later this month to explore options for replacing departing Superintendent Jerome Pecko, board President Brenda Hill said.

No date has been set, but Ms. Hill said she hopes to announce a special meeting soon. Board members will discuss at that meeting whether to hire a search firm, how much a search would cost, and how long it would take.

The possibility of other options also will be discussed, such as hiring an interim superintendent while conducting a longer search for a permanent replacement.

A search to replace Mr. Pecko permanently might take longer than the about six months left on his contract.

“That’s why we want to meet now,” Ms. Hill said. “We want to look at our options.”

Mr. Pecko announced at a special board meeting last week that he would not accept a new contract after his current, three-year term runs out July 31. He had said before the board meeting that he wanted to stay with the district, but only if he had board support.

It was unclear after that meeting whether the board offered him a contract renewal. Ms. Hill declined to comment then about internal board deliberations, claiming she was legally prohibited from disclosing conversations held in a closed-door session.

Ms. Hill declined again Tuesday to say whether the board wanted Mr. Pecko to stay.

“It’s not necessary to discuss what was said in executive session,” she said, because Mr. Pecko made their decision for them. If he had not resigned, the board would have had a public discussion on his future with the district.

“Because Dr. Pecko decided that he was ready to resign, that question never came up,” Ms. Hill said.

She commented on the superintendent search while at a public hearing at the district’s Thurgood Marshall building on Manhattan Boulevard. Tuesday’s hearing was part of the district’s performance audit, which is being conducted by Evergreen Solutions, a private consulting firm. The hearing was for community members to raise concerns, ideas, and questions about district operations. Turnout was low, with only about two dozen signing in for the event.

Parent Cynthia Snodgrass said she asked how virtual classrooms are used in the district, and whether curriculum is preparing students for 21st century careers. She said that improving student performance is a group effort, and not just up to schools.

“Parents need to be involved,” she said.

Chris Varwig, a former Parent Congress president, said the district could do a better job marketing itself, could pair successful parent groups with schools that struggle with parent engagement, and could have students create video clips to promote college and career readiness for their peers.

She said the district could save money by not conducting an expansive superintendent search.

“I think that hiring from within the district is the right way to go,” she said. “We have a great team in place [in the cabinet].”

Tammy Waddell had several grievances with the schools, including the lack of student transportation and what she considers unresponsiveness to complaints of bullying. She also said that the district should hire a new superintendent internally to save money, but also believes there should be a total leadership overhaul.

“We need a new regime,” she said.

Linda Recio, president of Evergreen Solutions, said she would have liked a better turnout, but has received numerous community responses through focus groups, one-on-one meetings, and online surveys.

Ms. Recio said a final performance audit report should be completed in April.

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

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