Previous experience as a superintendent was the ultimate reason Hilliard school board members tapped the lone external candidate to lead Ohio's ninth-largest school district.

Previous experience as a superintendent was the ultimate reason Hilliard school board members tapped the lone external candidate to lead Ohio's ninth-largest school district.

John C. Marschhausen, superintendent of Loveland City Schools in suburban Cincinnati, was named Feb. 28 to succeed Dale McVey as superintendent of Hilliard City Schools. McVey announced in October he was retiring June 30.

"We knew it would take a special person to get this job in place of our internal candidates," school board President Andy Teater said. "But when we viewed his eight years of experience as a superintendent, it was what put him over the top."

Board members selected Marschhausen from a field of 24 candidates. They passed over two finalists who are Hilliard administrators: Steve Estepp, executive director of K-12 curriculum and instruction, and David Stewart, principal of Hilliard Bradley High School.

Board members officially welcomed Marschhausen to the district at a special meeting March 4. They also unanimously approved two contracts for him.

The first contract, for the month of July, was necessary so the board could enact a three-year contract beginning Aug. 1 and ending July 31, the dates for the start end of annual contracts in the district.

Marschhausen will earn an annual base salary of $160,000. His total compensation with benefits will be $243,420.

In comparison, McVey's salary is $162,988 total annual compensation with benefits is $258,382.

"I hope to continue the tradition of excellence Dale McVey has set (and) I'm excited to be here," Marschhausen said March 4 during brief comments at the end of the five-minute meeting.

Attending the meeting with Marschhausen was his wife, Susan, a teacher at Little Miami Local Schools, and their daughters, Jordan and Emily. The family greeted about 150 Hilliard administrators and teachers at the conclusion of the meeting.

Teater described Marschhausen as "dynamic and passionate" about students and education, as well experienced in the role of superintendent.

Board members and Treasurer Brian Wilson conducted final interviews during a special closed meeting Tuesday, Feb. 26, and quickly reached a decision.

"(But) it was a very difficult decision," Teater said. "Our two internal candidates are such an integral part of our success (that) it was difficult to choose the external candidate."

Marschhausen learned about his new job while driving back to his suburban Cincinnati residence, only hours after the Feb. 26 interview concluded.

"I was thrilled to get the call and graciously accepted," said Marschhausen, whose next call was to his wife. "'Are you ready to buy some boxes?' was the first thing I asked her."

Marschhausen will leave a district of 4,700 students with one high school for a district more than three times the size, with 15,711 students and three high schools.

"I am thrilled to have this tremendous opportunity to lead the premier district in Ohio," Marschhausen said, one day after the Hilliard district learned that among all school districts in Ohio, it had the highest "value-added" measurement in the state.

"I can't imagine a better place to be."

Marschhausen said he has received "tremendous support and well wishes from everyone (at Loveland). It will be difficult to leave friends here, but I'm also looking forward to the excitement of coming to Hilliard."

Marschhausen, 41, was superintendent of East Knox Local Schools for five years before joining Loveland City Schools in 2010.

He earned a doctorate from Capella University in Minneapolis, a master's degree from the University of Dayton and a bachelor's degree from Wittenberg University.

As a sitting superintendent, McVey did not participate in choosing Marschhausen, but after the March 4 board meeting voiced confidence in the selection of the board.

"Our relationship begins tonight," McVey said after the meeting, referring to the transition for the remainder of the school year. "I'm excited for John because he will soon learn what a special place this is (and) he wants to be here.

"He chose to come here and that is the biggest compliment he can give us (and) a sign of the great things that lie ahead."

In addition to setting a base annual salary of $160,000, the full contract with Marschhausen includes an annual cellphone allowance of $1,200, an annual automobile allowance of $6,800 and 25 days of paid vacation per year.

The district will play the superintendent's share of the Medicare payroll tax, currently 1.45 percent of the salary.

The superintendent is accorded health and dental benefits and is entitled to an annuity equal to 10 percent of his annual salary.

The contract also requires the superintendent to "promptly establish residency" within the district and establishes annual reviews.