The acting superintendent who led Dayton Public Schools in the “challenging” wake after the exit of Rhonda Corr received the job permanently on Tuesday.
The board elevated Elizabeth Lolli to the top position without a national search or interviewing other internal candidates. Her contract runs through July 31, 2021.
The contract will pay Lolli $25,000 a year more than Corr’s base pay.
William Harris Jr., board president, presided over the 7-0 vote for Lolli, who he said proved herself in the interim position.
“It’s been challenging for all of us,” Harris said. “She demonstrated competent leadership. She was able to make insightful decisions and continues to do so. She’s demonstrated that she can lead this district with all of its challenges. We think she is the right one and we look forward to working with her.”
Lolli said her first action as permanent superintendent was to get up by 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to determine whether school needed to be called off due to weather. But after that, she said the focus would be on improving the district’s academic performance, by some standards the second worst in the state.
“You cannot change everything overnight, I know how long the change process takes, I just want to make sure we are focused, and that we can change things as quickly as we can change them because we have students we are serving and I want to make sure they get the best education possible,” she said.
Lolli, hired by the district in 2016 as an associate superintendent, was named acting superintendent after Corr was placed on administrative leave in November.
The district parted ways with Corr in January, but will continue paying her salary, which was $150,000 a year, as well as full retirement and health insurance benefits through July as part of a separation agreement. DPS initially hired Corr under a one-year contract and extended it for three years but soon afterward accused Corr of unprofessional behavior, creating a hostile work environment and falsifying documents.
After board members announced their intention to stick with Lolli last week, she said was eager to “work for a longer term.”
Lolli said she wants to continue the work she began in her roles prior to becoming superintendent.
“We started a lot of changes in curricular work, and I’m excited to expand that and I’m excited to build a really strong, firm foundation with the city, and the communities that we serve and a strong foundation with the teachers’ association and the other trade unions we work with,” she said. “I believe that together everybody can make a difference – a positive difference for our students.”
Lolli, a 40-year educator who has twice led other districts as superintendent, will be paid a prorated salary of $150,000 annually through July 31. The remaining years she will be paid a base salary of at least $175,000 annually.
Lolli’s base salary is 16.7 percent higher than Corr’s, but Corr’s contract offered the potential for thousands more in bonuses if individual schools and the district as a whole met certain performance standards.
Like Corr, Lolli will receive an annual $30,000 annuity and pension contribution from the district as well as other fringe benefits.
Lolli will take the helm of a district with one of the weakest report cards in the state with a districtwide, five-year graduation rate of “D,” and an “F” for test performance achievement. But the most recent report card gave the district high marks for year-over-year progress.
Lolli said that before she signed on as superintendent, she asked the board to bolster the curriculum office by filling vacant positions and adding at least two more positions.
“The board has given me the OK to do that because I believe that the academics will only improve if we show the support that we need to have through that curriculum and instruction piece,” she said.
Lolli and her husband, Gene, who is the business manager for Fairborn City Schools, are currently in the process of finding housing in Dayton by Aug. 1.