By Kevin Kelley
The search for a successor to Fairview Park City Schools Superintendent Brion Deitsch is well underway.
Stakeholders in the public school district had an opportunity to say what qualities they would like to see in the new chief educator during several meetings March 4. Gatherings of administrators, teachers and staffers took place during workday hours. Boosters and other parent support groups also met. A meeting for parents and other community members attracted 20 people that evening in the auditorium of Fairview High School.
The district has hired, at a cost of $6,900, the Ohio School Boards Association to assist with its superintendent search. The district also pays an annual membership fee – $5,654 for 2014 – to the OSBA. Kathy LaSota, the organization’s director of school board services, led the input sessions.
LaSota emphasized that while the OSBA vets job candidates, the Board of Education will hire the next superintendent.
“We never substitute our judgment for theirs,” LaSota said.
As of March 4, 17 individuals have applied, LaSota said. She expects the final number to be around 25 by the application deadline of March 24. The OSBA will then give board members a list of candidates it recommends they interview.
“They’ll know everything we know about the candidates,” LaSota said. She said the organization is known for conducting thorough background checks on job candidates.
“People are straightforward with us because we find out if they lie,” she said.
As LaSota took comments from those attending the meeting for parents and the public, she said several were consistent with those she heard earlier in the day from teachers and district administrators.
One was the need for the next superintendent to focus on the basics of education despite pressure to introduce new technologies in the classroom. Another was the need for the district to adopt a master plan for its aging facilities.
Many told LaSota it is critical that the new superintendent live in Fairview Park and be a visible leader to demonstrate that he or she is invested in the community. LaSota said board members have told her that if the next superintendent is coming from another part of the state, the preference would be that he or she move to a residence within the district’s borders, as Deitsch did when he was hired.
“No puppet” was a phrase LaSota said she heard applied to the next superintendent during several of her sessions. No specific entity was identified as the feared puppet master, LaSota said; the comment apparently represented a desire that the next superintendent not be an agent of any specific special interest group.
Parents and other attendees of the input session indicated they want the next superintendent to possess good collaboration and communication skills, and experience with levy campaigns and labor relations.
Deitsch, who has led the district since August 2005, announced in November that he will retire at the end of July. School board President Joe Shucofsky said the district hopes to select the next superintendent in late May.