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Hunt for Lorain Schools CEO ready to start


LORAIN — Former Lorain City Councilman Tony Richardson was selected to be the new chairman of the school district’s academic distress commission, kicking off the CEO appointment process.

At the commission’s first meeting Friday, state Superintendent Paolo DeMaria said he was excited about the high-quality members of the commission. Richardson, an Admiral King High School graduate and program manager for the Nord Center, said he’s excited about the district’s new direction.

“I want to thank Paolo for this opportunity,” Richardson said. “I’m really excited to be a part of this commission and to partner with the district and the community to look at how do we improve the district. A lot of work has been done, and we want to build upon that while still being open and transparent with our partners to move things forward.”

The creation of the commission and the appointment of a CEO, who must be selected within 60 days after the chairman is selected, are stipulated by state House Bill 70, which was passed in 2015.

So far, the only other district in the state to fall under the net of House Bill 70 is Youngstown, where Krish Mohip was selected to be the CEO last spring.

Lorain’s commission is made up of Richardson, Stocker Foundation Executive Director Patricia O’Brien, University of Toledo Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Inclusion Michele Soliz, Oberlin Assistant Superintendent and former Lorain Schools Principal John Monteleone and an academic instructional coach from the district, Dorinda Hall.

State Deputy Superintendent John Richard, who served on Lorain’s previous academic distress commission, said the district had several options when it comes to selecting a CEO, including self-advertising and using local educational service centers.

“(ESCs) are fairly equipped at doing this, but the one caution is that this is a district in need of fast improvement and because of the level of scrutiny, they might not be used to hiring someone like that,” Richard said. “The Ohio School Boards Association is another option. They’re also well equipped. A strength there is that they’re familiar with the House Bill 70 and the laws.”

Richard also said the commission could look at using a national search firm, which would be familiar with an urban district like Lorain, but it would cost between $12,000 and $25,000. He said while the state would pick up some of that bill, the district might have to help out with costs.

The state will pay the CEO’s salary, though.

Richard also noted that the turnaround time — the CEO will have to be selected by July 25 — is really quick, so the commission members will want to discuss what method they want to use at their next meeting.

Jeff Graham, the district’s superintendent, said he would consider being CEO, and Mayor Chase Ritenauer has urged his appointment to the post.

Ritenauer, who appointed Monteleone to the commission, said he thinks the commission understands the educational needs of the district, and he’s impressed with the collaboration and communication.

School board president Tim Williams, who appointed Hall to the commission, said while he doesn’t speak for the board, he sees this as being about improving life for the students in the district.

“We want to continue with the improvements we have made and build on that, and I think that attitude with the state and with the commission is comforting,” he said.

DeMaria said he’s impressed with the Lorain district and community as their commitment to education is clear.

“We’re working together for the benefit of the students of this community,” he said. “The work starts today. This isn’t to disregard the good things happening but it’s to amplify them and that’s the commitment I make. I’m proud we have five very dedicated individuals. We’re beginning work that will continue to reflect the dedication of this community.”

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or Follow her on Twitter @KatieHNix.

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