By Jeff Gallatin
North Olmsted officials hope to have selected a new superintendent for the district from among three finalists after a series of interviews this week.
The finalists are Patrick Colucci Sr., superintendent of the Ashtabula Area City Schools; Michael Zalar, superintendent of Oregon (Ohio) City Schools; and Paul Lombardo, principal of Willoughby South High School.
All three are scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow by three separate groups at the Board of Education offices. Each candidate will be interviewed separately by district principals and administrators; teachers and union representatives; and the board of education. The interviews will held in executive session since they are dealing with personnel matters. A followup special meeting, which will be public, has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at the board offices, where it’s anticipated a selection will be made.
North Olmsted school board President John Lasko said district officials thought having the candidates interviewed by the different groups would be a good way to gauge their abilities.
“They’ll be working with all the groups at one time or another, so it will be good to see how they handle the communications and interact with them,” Lasko said. ‘The superintendent will have a lot of regular contact with the district principals and administrators, as well as the teachers and union representatives, as part of the regular educational process, so the input from the groups will be valuable to the process as well.”
Lasko acknowledged that there was a wide range of experience and credentials as well and that school board members wanted to be able to pick from a wide range of credentials.
“You could say that it goes from one part of the spectrum to another, with one candidate who has been a superintendent for several years, another who has been a superintendent for a few months, but has a wide range of administrative experience, and a third who is a principal and has strong experience as well and is directly involved in the educational process at the building level right now,” he said. “They have a good range of experiences and educational philosophies which we can consider.”
Lasko said he doesn’t expect a final decision Thursday, but said it likely will come within a few days afterward.
“We’ll probably give everybody the opportunity to sleep on it and consider what they heard Thursday night and Friday, and then call a special meeting to make a decision,” he said.
Lombardo has been principal at Willoughby South High School since 2005. Prior to that, he was assistant principal at Eastlake North High School for three years and a summer school principal for the Willoughby and Eastlake schools. He also has taught math and coached athletics in Maui, Hawaii, Mayfield Heights and Eastlake Middle School.
He was one of several Willoughy South educators who were honored following a 2008 incident in which a student brought a gun and ammunition to the school. After investigation, officials said it appeared the teen had intended to commit suicide at the school, but after Lombardo put the school in lockdown, educators were able to talk the teen into relinquishing the weapon and giving up to authorities.
Referring to his overall educational approach, Lombardo said he believes in obtaining a wide range of information and ideas.
“I believe in a strong team and inclusive approach,” he said. “I like to work with a group concept and use different information to work towards the best possible decision.”
He noted that he had enjoyed his experience in Hawaii, but was glad to come back to Ohio.
“My family is from here,” he said. “A place like Hawaii is nice, but you’d like to be able to share it with your family and people you’re close with.”
Lombardo said he looked forward to the opportunity to meet and answer questions with the different groups Thursday.
Neither of the other candidates, Colucci and Zalar, could be reached for comment in time for this story.
Colucci became superintendent of the Ashtabula Area Schools this year, and was assistant superintendent of the district from 2007-2012. He was the district administrator of federal programs from 2005-2007 and also served as a building principal, assistant principal, teacher and coach in the Ashtabula County area.
Zalar has been superintendent of Oregon City Schools (located east of Toledo) since 2008. Prior to that he was principal at Patrick Henry High School in Hamler, Ohio, from 1999-2002 and then principal at Clay High School from August 2002 until he became superintendent.
He also has been an occupational work experience coordinator in Perrysburg and North Baltimore, Ohio, and a geography and world studies teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio.