Columbus School Board Seeks Permanent Superintendent

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Columbus school board members Ramona Reyes, Bryan Steward, and Mike Wiles review report on superintendent search(Photo: WOSU News/Tom Borgerding)
Columbus school board members Ramona Reyes, Bryan Steward, and Mike Wiles review report on superintendent search(Photo: WOSU News/Tom Borgerding)

The Columbus Board of Education says it wants to hire a permanent superintendent before the end of June despite some outside pressure to name an interim.

The board says it wants to hire a calculated risk taker, preferably with a doctorate, who can boost student academic performance. While the board left open a slight possibility of hiring an interim superintendent, member Gary Baker expressed the prevailing sentiment of the board.

“There’s no reason to wait.” Says Baker.

Mayor Michael Coleman appointed a 25 member education commission in December. He wants the board to wait on a permanent hire until the commission makes its recommendations in April. The school board also awaits results of an investigation of alleged manipulation of attendance figures being conducted by State Auditor David Yost.

During last night’s discussion with executive recruiter Alan Leis, Board president Carol Perkins says time is short. Current superintendent Gene Harris is retiring at the end of June.

“We need a superintendent and we can’t delay while we’re waiting on the work of the state.” Says Perkins.

The board’s timetable calls for candidate interviews in late April. That’s about the same time the mayor’s education commission is expected to issue recommendations. But, the commission will give its findings to city hall, not the school board so its uncertain when any of the commission’s recommendations would be taken up by the board. Board member Ramona Reyes told Leis any candidate for the district’s top administrative post has to know about the mayor’s commission and the auditor’s investigation.

“That’s why I’m hoping that you’re looking for somebody that is going to be able to come in and say
ok, I thought it was this but they moved the cheese and now it’s this and I’m ok with that and I’m going to move forward and I’m going to be ready to move, to make things happen,” Reyes said.

Alan Leis says his recruitment efforts will now take on new urgency.

“We’ll post another ad now with more specifics now that the board’s agreed to what the key characteristics are,” said Leis.

Leis says the names of top candidates for the superintendent’s position will be given to the board on April 16.

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