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Chicago firm hired to help find Lorain school CEO


LORAIN — Atlantic Research Partners will be assisting the Lorain Schools’ Academic Distress Commission’s search for a district CEO.

“They have a really strong reputation and have worked with distressed districts like Lorain before,” commission chairman Tony Richardson said. “They stood out to me because of their approach to data and utilizing online in the search process.”

Richardson said Chicago-based Atlantic has worked with the Nashville and Salt Lake City school districts in selecting superintendents and will be working with the Lorain district’s CEO and administration as it moves through the transition period this summer and into next school year.

Richardson said the firm will cost $20,000, but the state will cover that in addition to the CEO’s salary when he or she is selected.

At a meeting Monday afternoon, the commission discussed that the body was looking at four firms, ranging from $7,500 to $30,000, and Richardson said stakeholder meetings and the ability to get the community involved would be an important part of the firm selection.

The only other district in the state that has gone through the CEO selection process is Youngstown, and that district’s academic distress commission chose to use the Mahoning County Educational Service Center in its search.

The CEO selection, mandated by state House Bill 70 after Lorain Schools failed to meet state report card standards in part because of changing test standards, must be completed by July 24.

“One of the things I really liked about Atlantic was that they had done their research on the district before talking to us, and it showed,” he said. “They know how to get boots on the ground and get a search like this going, which is important considering the turnaround time.”

The CEO would possess functions of a superintendent and a school board, with the exception of placing levies on the ballot, something that would stay with the local Board of Education.

Superintendent Jeff Graham, whose contract will expire at the end of the upcoming school year, has expressed interest in serving as the CEO but has said some of the provisions of the law, like the CEO’s ability to turn failing buildings into charter schools, have made him leery as well.

“If that’s something the state wants to see happen, it’s not something I can be a part of,” he has said.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who selected a member of the distress commission, said Graham is who he would like to see head the district moving forward.

The next public meeting of the commission is 2 p.m. June 27 at Lorain High School, 2600 Ashland Ave.

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

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