Toledo Public Schools narrows interim superintendent search to 2 finalists

4/5/2013
BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Durant
Durant

The Toledo Board of Education pared further Thursday its candidate list for interim superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, deciding to call back two of three finalists for the district’s top spot.

Heuer
Heuer

Additional interviews with Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools Superintendent Douglas Heuer and TPS Assistant Superintendent Romules Durant will be scheduled soon, board President Brenda Hill said.

The board held interviews Thursday with Oregon City Schools Superintendent Michael Zalar and Mr. Heuer after a Tuesday interview of Mr. Durant.

After Thursday’s interviews, the school board settled on Mr. Heuer and Mr. Durant. The two are vying to replace Superintendent Jerome Pecko, whose contract expires July 31.

Mr. Heuer, 63, has been in education for about 40 years, most recently as head of the suburban Cleveland district since 2009.

He made a late decision to apply for the Toledo Public Schools position, but said what he’s learned about the district made a “compelling argument to be here.”

He commended the district for conducting a performance audit, and said the transformation plan created a good framework for the district.

But he hinted at making alterations in district operations if hired.

Mr. Heuer said he’s been something of a change-agent in other districts, which have moved from continuous improvement on state report cards to excellent with distinction — the equivalent of going from a C to an A+.

“I’ve been referred to as a transformational superintendent,” he said.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights district has about 5,700 students, most of whom are minorities and poor.

The district has made slight improvements on its school report card under Mr. Heuer, increasing its performance index score — a cumulative average of scores for all grades — from 86.9 in the eeeeeeeee2009-2010 school year to 87.7 last year.

Mr. Durant, 37, is a member of a crop of young top TPS administrators who have taken prominent leadership roles within the Pecko administration and served as the public face of many of the school district’s initiatives in recent years.

He’s been with the district since 1999, serving as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal — including a stint at Riverside Elementary — before moving to district administration.

Mr. Zalar has been superintendent of Oregon’s schools since 2008.

The school board made its decision on Mr. Durant and Mr. Heuer in a closed session, and took no vote in open session, Ms. Hill acknowledged after the meeting. That action might have run afoul of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act.

“You got me,” Ms. Hill said when asked if the board took formal action outside an open meeting.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.