Valley View school district hires new superintendent

Valley View’s school board hired Benjamin Richards as its new superintendent, effective Aug. 1, at a special school board meeting Monday night.

Richards is currently director of communications and community outreach, as well as student services coordinator, for Southwest Licking Local Schools, a roughly 4,000-student district just east of Columbus.

He was chosen from a group of 21 applicants, after interviews with eight semifinalists, according to the district.

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“Mr. Richards’ overall experience and his track record as a district-wide administrator and as a principal made him a strong candidate from the beginning,” school board President Angie Valenti said in a district statement. “We believe he has the energy and expertise to work collaboratively with the board, the staff and the community to help establish an exemplary vision and direction for the future.”

Valley View’s previous superintendent, Richard Earley, resigned at the end of 2017, after three-plus years with the district. Joe Scholler, a longtime educator who was previously superintendent for the Arcanum-Butler, Mississinawa Valley and Tri-Village districts, is currently filling in as interim superintendent.

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Valley View schools have had some turmoil recently, as the community was sharply divided over — and eventually rejected — a levy proposal to build new schools with state funding help. Last fall’s school board election was also tense, over issues of finances as well as politically and religiously controversial posts on one candidate’s social media account.

The Valley View job will be Richards’ first as a superintendent. According to a statement from the Valley View district, Richards served as principal of Southwest Licking’s Watkins Memorial High School from 2010-16 before moving into his current roles.

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He has also worked as a high school assistant principal and teacher in Olentangy schools, teaching English, speech and drama.

Richards, a 1999 graduate of Ohio Northern University, is married with two children who will attend Valley View schools in the fall, according to the district.

“I am excited about becoming part of the community and helping the district focus on doing what is best for children,” Richards said in the district’s statement.

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