Northwest News

Columbus City Schools

Public asked for input on superintendent hunt


As Columbus City Schools invites community members into the search for a new superintendent, members of some local education groups also intend to weigh in on the matter.

Susan Gaunce, chairwoman of the Clintonville Education Committee, hopes a local person who knows the district is hired. The committee is an independent organization of parents and community members.

"I think Gene Harris' experience as a Columbus City Schools' graduate has been valuable," Gaunce said of the current superintendent, who will retire effective June 30.

"I think somebody local would be very helpful, someone familiar with an urban school district," Gaunce said.

Matt Eshelbrenner, founder of Southside STAY in the German Village area, wants a strong leader who has superintendent experience from a proven school district.

"I think it's really great that they're opening up the process to include the opinions of a lot of members of the community," Eshelbrenner said.

"I just hope they have a quantitative way to value our input and implement that."

Hazard Young Attea & Associates, an executive search firm hired by the district, is holding community focus groups to identify the qualities and specific skills expected from the next superintendent. The board has authorized paying $37,000 for the search firm services.

The next community meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11 at Colerain Elementary School, 499 E. Weisheimer Road in Clintonville. The final meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Oakland Park Elementary School, 3392 Atwood Terrace.

"This was most definitely an interest of the board of education to provide an opportunity for the public to be directly involved in defining what we want in our next superintendent, and what we want in terms of specific characteristics, skills and abilities," said Jeff Warner, director of communications and media relations for the district.

"And the board was adamant that we build in a process so that people could participate directly and indirectly," Warner said.

Those who can't attend the final two meetings can offer input at the website through Feb. 18.

The board began working with the search firm in mid-January.

At the Feb. 26 board of education meeting, the search firm will present the leadership profile through the input gathered at the public forums, Warner said.

By mid-April, the board expects to interview top candidates and have a new superintendent named by early May, he said.