Oakwood schools’ search for new leader focuses on district’s strengths, needs

OAKWOOD — A long tradition of community support for education, rigorous academics, a safe environment and small class sizes are among the strengths of Oakwood City Schools.

But the school district also needs to be more responsive to shifting demographics and working parents while improving transparency and communication.

Those were among the thoughts this week at a forum seeking public feedback on Oakwood schools as part of a search for the district’s next superintendent.

The final of four sessions held by the consulting firm guiding the process for a permanent successor to Kyle Ramey drew about 15 people and a variety of comments.

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The district, which has an enrollment of about 2,050 students and nearly 95% of its last graduating class attending higher education, was lauded on many counts.

One attendee said she was impressed with “the strong academics” and a “very supportive environment” in K-12 instruction while another noted that the “teachers are engaged.”

Oakwood “is a district where you can go and talk with the principal. You can talk with the superintendent. You can see these members in our community, too,” one resident said.

“I think that sort of walkability – that community aspect – is definitely one of the greatest assets. … those kind of interactions are really valued here,” he added.

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Yet the district has seen “significant” demographics shifts and needs “more forceful leadership,” said Sam Dorf, an associate professor at the University of Dayton who has been active in Oakwood school issues.

“The expectations for the workforce that the students are entering — or the collegiate experience that are students are entering — has changed also,” he said.

“The administration has been willing to (change), but they’re not moving necessarily as fast as other districts,” Dorf added. “So, I think willingness to make hard decisions and a willingness to be bold in leadership and envisioning the kind of education and the kind of environments we want for our students has been slow.”

Another attendee said when the district seeks feedback, “it feels like we’re being asked for input to placate us … I don’t agree with a lot of people here, I think, on issues. But we agree very much on substance.”

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Search conductor K-12 Business Consulting Inc. said input from all the forums will be part of profile of what the community is seeking in a successor for Ramey, who is stepping down Dec. 31 after more than nine years.

Director of Educational Services and Human Resources Allyson Couch has been named as his temporary replacement.

A survey, available at oakwoodschools.org, closes today and the job will be posted through Jan. 6, according to the district.

K-12′s Frank Forsthoefel said his operation is now seeking to attract “high-performing” potential candidates.

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K-12 will recommend applicants to the Oakwood board of education with interviews projected for mid-January, he said.

Forsthoefel said a targeted date for the board of education to pick a candidate is mid-February.

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