A longtime local educator has been tapped to be the next schools superintendent in Canal Winchester.

A longtime local educator has been tapped to be the next schools superintendent in Canal Winchester.

James Sotlar, assistant superintendent for the Pickerington Local School District who also served as interim superintendent there for a year, was chosen for the top spot in the Canal Winchester district last week.

He was one of seven semifinalists and eventually, three finalists, culled from an initial list of 30 applicants. He will succeed current Superintendent Kimberley Miller-Smith, who will retire at the end of the year.

The school board scheduled a special meeting Monday night, Nov. 5, after ThisWeek's press time, to officially vote on hiring Sotlar and to vote on his contract offer.

According to information from Treasurer Joyce Boyer, Sotlar that offer includes a base salary of $118,735 a year, plus benefits that will include a $400 a month travel allowance, 20 days of vacation and three personal days each year, full pick-up of retirement benefits to the State Teachers Retirement System and a $100,000 life insurance policy. In addition, the board will pay his membership to professional organizations and he will receive the same insurance benefits as other district employees.

His base salary as assistant superintendent in Pickerington is $109,434.

Board President Debra Waites said district employees were notified of Sotlar's selection by email on Thursday, Nov. 1.

"As board President, I feel that Mr. Sotlar's leadership abilities are surpassed only by his passion for education and genuine caring for students and staff," Waites said in the email. "He undoubtedly has a handle on the issues confronting our school system and how to move us ahead together as a school community."

She said Sotlar will start Jan. 1, 2013.

Sotlar has 20 years of experience in education, 14 of them in administration.

He has been assistant superintendent with Pickerington schools since 2008. In addition to a stint as interim superintendent, he also worked as the district's interim director for curriculum and instruction for one year and was principal of Lakeview Junior High School for six years.

Prior to coming to Pickerington, he served as assistant principal at Shanahan Middle School in the Olentangy district for two years.

Sotlar earned a master's degree in education from Ashland University and a bachelor's degree from Youngstown State University.

"The most important decision that we, as your school board will probably ever make is the choice of the school district's leader," Waites said. "The superintendent works directly with not just the school board, but all of the school district stakeholders. So, finding the right superintendent for our school district was a task this board did not take lightly."

While Sotlar will not officially take over as superintendent until Jan. 1, he is expected to be in the district periodically to work with Miller-Smith so that he will be familiar with staff and district challenges before she steps down.