Board closes in on new super

EAST LIVERPOOL – The city school district may have a new superintendent by next week, according to board of education President Janice Martin.

The board has held three special meetings this week during which candidate interviews were conducted, and Martin said a special meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday during which she anticipates a superintendent could be named.

Board members had a panel of nine candidates from which to select, provided by the county Educational Service Center (ESC), which was asked to conduct the superintendent search for the district.

Martin said, “We needed someone unbiased. We wanted to get the best candidate without anyone (in the district) having anything to do with it.”

She commended Anna Marie Vaughn of the ESC for coming up with a viable list of quality candidates who Martin said had “a lot of experience,” who she called “a good group of people.”

None are from within the district.

The candidates provided for the board’s consideration were:

– Curtis Clough, New Philadelphia, former superintendent of Strasburg Local Schools who recently resigned from that district for personal reasons, according to media reports

– Brenda Harper, Mentor, assistant superintendent of White Hat Management in Akron

– Brian Garrett, Navarre, former Sandy Valley Local School District High School principal who recently resigned due to opportunities to expand his educational background, according to media reports

– Andrew Kuthy, Youngstown, Pymatuning Valley Local School District Middle School principal

– Steve Romey, Toronto, teacher at Belmont-Harrison Career Center

– Dennis Spisak, Struthers, former Youngstown City Schools principal and Southern Local High School principal

– Stephen Stohla, Alliance, former superintendent Brookfield and Alliance school districts and retired United Local superintendent

– Eugene Thomas, Beaver Falls, Pa., education consultant, state support team, Ohio Department of Education

– Melissa Watson, Warren, director of teaching and learning, Warren City Schools.

Martin said, “We haven’t interviewed all of them,” without elaborating on which have and have not been granted an interview but said, “We’re really focused on it.”

Asked what the board is looking for in a replacement for out-going superintendent James Herring, Martin said a combination of someone to focus on academics and district finances, saying, “Academics are starting to move forward, and finances and the five-year forecast are always important. We need someone to pull this district together so everybody’s on the same page. Academics always have to be of the utmost importance and (the new superintendent) is going to have to work with a lot of new people.”

While Herring was earning $100,000 annually, according to Martin, she said the new superintendent’s salary still has to be negotiated with the person chosen.

She was confident that the board’s choice on Thursday will be a unanimous one.

“I think it will be a unanimous vote and the board will support this person,” she said.

Herring’s resignation was accepted at the board’s Feb. 24 meeting, first being defeated 2-2 with Martin and Scott Dieringer in favor, members Bob Estell and Larry Walton opposed and member Brian Allen absent.

When Allen entered the meeting later, an executive session was called and the matter was brought up again, this time with just Walton opposed to accepting the resignation.

At that time, Herring’s only comment was that he believed it was time to part ways with the district.