You can’t get the school leader you want until you know the kind of school leader you want.
That’s the underlying philosophy behind Lakota Local Schools’ first public step in its process of hiring a new superintendent to lead Ohio’s eighth largest school system.
More than 40 school parents and district residents participated Wednesday in the first of a series of public meetings designed to guide the governing board on its upcoming hiring of a new leader who will begin in the 2017-2018 school year.
It was a wide-ranging, collaborative gathering with residents divided into small groups and all were encouraged by a professional meeting facilitator to offer their suggestions on what qualities they would like to see in the new superintendent.
Resident Lisa Phair told the gathering at the Lakota Central Office she wants the next superintendent to be a “professional networker.”
“They have to have very solid relationships with local colleges and businesses,” said Phair.
But school parent Amy Rupp wants a leader who appreciates the differences between Lakota’s 22 schools, which enroll more than 16,500 students in West Chester and Liberty townships, making it the largest suburban district in Southwest Ohio.
“Each of our schools have different gifts. I don’t think you can treat all our buildings with the same recipe,” Rupp said.
As first reported by the Journal-News, Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia was granted medical leave from the superintendent’s job in late August. She was in the final year of her contract.
Assistant Superintendent Robb Vogelmann was unanimously approved by the board as Lakota’s acting superintendent, and he will finish out the 2016-2017 school year in that role. Vogelmann has not commented as to whether he will seek the job permanently.
In Ohio, publicly elected school boards hire superintendents and district treasurers.
Lakota board members have said they expect to hire a new superintendent in the first half of 2017 in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year in August.
The kaleidoscope of opinions was exactly what board members need in making their decision, said School Board President Lynda O’Connor.
“It’s really important we get our community’s voice in the process so we have the right leader taking us forward,” she said.
School parent Lorri Stanley, who is the parent-council president at Freedom Elementary, said she appreciated the public outreach by the board.
“It gives us the opportunity to tell our opinion and our needs and wants for the school district our children go to,” said Stanley.
The next public meeting is Friday Oct. 14 at 11:30 a.m. at the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance office at 8922 Beckett Road in West Chester Twp.
Three other meetings in the coming weeks will serve as open forums for other Lakota topics the public may raise as well as the superintendent search. They are:
• 7:15 p.m. Oct. 17 at Lakota West High School – hosted by Lakota West Boosters – at the school, 8940 Union Centre Blvd.
• 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Boys & Girls Club West Chester/Liberty – hosted by the club – at 4845 Smith Road.
• 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at West Chester Presbyterian Church – hosted by Reach Out Lakota – at 8930 Cincinnati-Dayton Road.
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