Superintendent David Axner will leave the Dublin school district in much better shape than he found it.

Superintendent David Axner will leave the Dublin school district in much better shape than he found it.

Axner will hand the reins of the school district to Todd Hoadley this month as he heads to his new job as associate executive director of the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators, but district officials said he will not be soon forgotten.

Axner was recruited from Chagrin Falls in 2007 after Dublin's superintendent and treasurer both left amid claims of sexual harassment and intimidation.

School board member Lynn May said Axner was the right man to get the district back on track.

"Dr. Axner came to us when we needed strong leaders and he did a phenomenal job of pulling us all up and uniting the community and the staff," she said.

"He helped everyone be proud of where they worked and be proud of Dublin.

"He helped us through a bump in the road. It's gone from a great district to an even better district," she added.

"He brought an elevated level of professionalism," board President Chris Valentine said.

"Upon his arrival to the school district that was not only needed at the time, but is now, in my opinion, long lasting and it set a standard for whomever will follow."

District Treasurer Stephen Osborne also came to Dublin from Chagrin Falls in 2007 and has worked with Axner for 14 years. During their time working together in Dublin, Osborne said Axner has made difficult decisions.

"One of the focuses with me has been budget reductions," Osborne said. "We had to reduce expenditures and maintain accountability to tax payers and also try to regulate a decrease in revenue to the district, while all at the same time, continuing to provide excellent services.

"We've been able to do that and it's what Dublin is known for," he said.

For May, one of Axner's major contributions to the district has been high college entrance exam scores.

"What he's done with our college entrance exam scores, that's a difficult thing to do," May said. "It's like trying to steer the Titanic up a river and he did it.

"He will always say, 'It wasn't me, it was the staff,' but you have to have a good leader for everyone to feel the pride and ownership of what's happened and he did a good job of that."

The strong staff Axner has assembled since his arrival has impressed Board Member Stu Harris.

"You can judge the caliber of the leader by the people he has around him," Harris said.

"As you look around the room and see administration that we have, we have top notch people that are serving the district and that same influence goes out into the building.

"Along those lines, something I think is very impressive is Dr. Axner meets with every single teacher we hire ... I think he started doing that as a way to have a personal interaction and talk about the district with every new hire."

For Valentine, some commendation goes to the way Axner handles every situation.

"He is a facilitator," Valentine said.

"When he walks into a room, he immediately shows a commanding presence," Valentine said.

"He is no-nonsense, but at the same time, has been extremely compassionate and that has shined through in a number of his actions ... ."

Although district officials are looking forward to working with Hoadley, they said they will miss Axner.

"He's leaving us in a better place," May said. "He loves what he does. He loves being here and that was obvious. I never felt a single day that he didn't want to be here."

"No matter what we were doing, from the happiest day on graduation day to one of our most difficult on Election Day when the levy was turned down, you can really see a lot of character in Dr. Axner," Harris said.

"In all those events ... he's always calm, collected and accountable for what we should do next to move the district into the future."

Even though Axner will start his new job in September, he won't entirely leave Dublin.

"In my opinion, he has meant as much to Dublin City Schools and the city of Dublin as any individual I can think about in my time as a lifelong Dublin resident," Valentine said.

"Fortunately for us, he is going to remain in the community and can still contribute in other ways."