By Kevin Kelley
As of Monday, the search for the education administrator to succeed Dan Keenan as superintendent of the Westlake City Schools was down to four candidates, including Westlake High School Principal Tim Freeman. The three other finalists are incumbent superintendents – George Fisk, of the East Palestine City Schools; Jeffrey Graham, of the Parma City Schools; and James Kallis, of the Riverside Local Schools.
The board of education interviewed those four Monday and Tuesday evenings, board President Carol Winter told West Life. Board members may further narrow the field following those interviews, Winter said.
The board’s plan, Winter said, is to have those candidates who remain give a public presentation on their background at the June 16 meeting. That meeting, which Winter said will likely be held at Westlake High School, will begin at 6 p.m.
The board had pledged to allow public participation in the selection process. The Ohio Schools Board Association, which the board hired to conduct the search, held two public meetings in early May to solicit public input. Neither was well-attended.
The district received 25 applications for the position. Winter said she considered that a good number considering the educational qualifications required for the superintendent positions.
“We had a nice variety,” Winter said of the application pool, which she said included a significant number of current superintendents.
“It’s hard for a sitting superintendent to throw their hat in the ring,” Winter said. Richard Caster, the OSBA official working on the Westlake search, has said superintendents are sometimes reluctant to pursue the same job in another district because applications are public records. The teachers and other constituents of a district may question why their sitting superintendent is applying for another job.
Freeman was the only internal candidate to apply, Winter said.
With the help of the OSBA, the board identified eight semifinalists, Winter said. Seven were interviewed June 2 and 3. One semifinalist was unavailable for an interview on those dates, Winter said.
Current Superintendent Dan Keenan announced April 3 that he is leaving to become the executive director of the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, an educational nonprofit based in Cleveland.