The Toledo Board of Education chose, for now, to eschew a lengthy search for a permanent replacement to departing Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Jerome Pecko, instead deciding Thursday to hire an interim superintendent when he leaves.
The interim replacement will likely come from within the district. Board members met in closed session Thursday and discussed internal superintendent candidates, and the board set up a short time frame for applications. Those interested in the position will have between today and March 22 to submit applications to the TPS treasurer’s office.
“We will be looking at inside,” board President Brenda Hill said, “but if someone wants to apply we will certainly not turn them down.”
More than 20 TPS administrators hold superintendent licenses, making them eligible for the position. Likely favorites would be Assistant Superintendent Romules Durant and Chief Academic Officer Jim Gault, both of whom have taken prominent leadership roles within the Pecko administration and served as the public face of many of the district’s initiatives in recent years.
Mr. Pecko announced at a special board meeting earlier this year that he would not accept a new contract after his 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.
Ms. Hill said the district will advertise the interim position on its Web site. Whoever the district hires as an interim could be made permanent if that person is successful, she said.
The board’s decision sets up a scenario similar to how it replaced former Treasurer Dan Romano in 2011 after repeated rifts with the board about what members said were unpaid or late bills, and other conflicts. The board appointed as interim-treasurer Matt Cleland, then director of the TPS office of budget and management, a day after Mr. Romano resigned.
Mr. Cleland was chosen in September, 2011 after the board met with several candidates for about two hours in closed session. Several months later, the board gave Mr. Cleland a two-year contract as treasurer and praised his work.
If the board is not happy with the interim-superintendent’s work, a search for a different replacement would then commence.
Ms. Hill said the board won’t preclude qualified external candidates applying for the interim position, but said an internal candidate has the advantage of prior experience within the district, and would be prepared to handle the challenges the district soon will face.
“I would say if they are internal, then they have a knowledge of what’s going on already,” she said. “If they are external, they have to come in and they have to learn.”
Board member Cecelia Adams is a former TPS administrator and has a valid superintendent’s license, though it expires this summer.
When asked if she has had conversations in recent weeks about possibly being appointed to the superintendent’s position, she said that people have said “nice things to me,” but that she has no interest in applying.
“My concentration is on doing the job I was elected to do,” she said.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.
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