Dayton school board praises Lolli, but quiet about superintendent choice

William Harris, Dayton school board president

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William Harris, Dayton school board president

Dayton school board leadership is remaining tight-lipped about how the district will fill its superintendent post, but acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli continues to draw praise.

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One month after the district finalized the departure of Rhonda Corr, school board President William Harris would not say earlier this week whether the board will begin a national candidate search or hire from within.

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“We’re actually still in conversation. We haven’t made any decisions yet,” Harris said. “We’re trying to navigate and see which way to go.”

Lolli has been acting superintendent for Dayton Public Schools since Corr was put on leave Nov. 21. Neither Lolli nor Harris would discuss whether she has expressed interest in the position on a longer-term basis.

But Harris complimented Lolli’s work on Tuesday.

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“She came into a very difficult situation, and we feel like she’s done an admirable job thus far,” Harris said.

One week earlier, during a school board meeting, Harris publicly complimented Lolli’s leadership and commitment. Teachers union President David Romick and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley have also spoken highly of Lolli’s work since stepping in.

But Harris would not put a timeline on the superintendent hiring, saying the board understands how critical it is to get the decision right.

Schools take a variety of approaches in hiring superintendents.

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Columbus City Schools is down to two finalists for their superintendent post, after community brainstorming sessions that started in October, an application deadline in December, and interviews in January and February. The public will get to ask questions of the finalists at upcoming public forums.

More locally, Troy and Trotwood schools are currently searching for superintendents, with application deadlines in early March, according to postings on the Ohio School Boards Association website. Trotwood also held a community meeting with questionnaires so residents could weigh in on the characteristics most important in their leader.

Tecumseh schools, meanwhile, chose to hire fairly quickly from within, promoting assistant superintendent Paula Crew, a longtime, respected Tecumseh employee.

2016 STORY: Finalists state their case for DPS post

After DPS chose not to bring back Superintendent Lori Ward in 2016, the district held a formal search, interviewing multiple candidates and hosting a public Q&A session with finalists, like Columbus is planning. The school board eventually hired Corr over finalists Dan Schroer (now Springboro’s superintendent) and Greg Roberson (still overseeing DPS’ special education efforts).

One month ago, Harris laid out what DPS is looking for in a superintendent going forward.

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“Number one, you need strong leadership,” he said. “The person at the top must be capable, competent and be able to lead this district, with many of its challenges, and understanding the urban environment. That person has to be strong enough to make decisions that are difficult, to be fiscally responsible and to communicate effectively from the top all the way down.”

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