Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mystery trio emerges for superintendent's job

And there were three ... at least three anyway.

That's how many have applied so far to be Akron's new superintendent. Candidates have until Jan. 25th to apply, but so far, three have filed their paperwork.

The applicants' names are known only to the Ohio Public Schools Search Service team, which was in Akron today (Tuesday) leading meetings seeking input on what the community would like to see in a new superintendent.

I asked schools spokeswoman Karen Ingraham about the applicants' identities, but neither she nor anyone in the district has been given that information yet.

I could speculate, but none of my sources have any hard evidence yet on who wants to be Akron's new top educator. With 17 days to go, there's still time for quite a few more folks to toss their names in the ring so we'll have to see how this plays out.

No matter who takes the job, I think one of the top priorities has to be managing the declining enrollment. APS has been shrinking by nearly 500 students per year. A pamphlet at today's meetings list enrollment at 28,483 but that sounds high to me. It also lists the average teacher's salary at $60,600. Anyone else surprised by that figure?

There's a number of reasons for the decline, including families moving to the suburbs and out-of-state, fewer folks in Akron having babies (I think), the lure of charter schools and other factors. Regardless of the reasons, constructing all these beautiful new schools mandates that the district at least maintain its enrollment numbers.

You can bet that City Hall, among other local groups, will provide behind-the-scenes input on who should and shouldn't be considered for the job. Hopefully the search committee will have some strong internal and external candidates emerge.

I also hope that we're not left with the same dilemma we faced the last time .. where the board was deadlocked on two candidates and decided to have a super (Dr. Sylvester Small) and a co-super (Donna Loomis). In 2008, Akron parents and voters would rather see one name, one face, one vision take charge.

I also spoke to a management consultant from the Ohio School Boards Association whose group helps guide the superintendent search and assists with screening the initial set of candidates. He told me that dozens of community leaders took park in a phone conference today giving their thoughts on a new superintendent. Those ideas will be combined with ideas from district teachers/employees and parents/community members into a final report to the Akron School Board.

FYI ... the board screening of applicants is set for Jan. 31st with interviews scheduled for Feb. 4th. The goal is to have a new superintendent on-site by Aug. 1st.

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