The Pickerington Board of Education named an interim superintendent and assistant superintendent during a special meeting Tuesday morning, June 28.

The Pickerington Board of Education named an interim superintendent and assistant superintendent during a special meeting Tuesday morning, June 28.

Members voted unanimously to name Jim Sotlar interim superintendent and Bob Blackburn as interim assistant superintendent.

Sotlar, a former Lakeview Junior High principal, has been the district's assistant superintendent since the 2008-09 school year. He will replace Karen Mantia, who announced June 16 she's resigning to become superintendent of the Lakota Local School District near Cincinnati.

According to board President Lisa Reade, both interim appointments are effective Aug. 1, and they will hold the post on a month-by-month basis.

However, Reade indicated it's unlikely the district would have a full-time superintendent in place prior to the Aug. 29 start of school.

"I really don't think we're interested in rushing the process," she said. "The biggest task in front of us I see is keeping the district consistent. We need someone who knows the players and knows the buildings."

As assistant superintendent, Sotlar currently earns an annual salary of $109,434. He will receive a $500-per-month car allowance as interim superintendent and additional compensation will be discussed at the board's July 11 meeting.

"Personally, a goal of mine always has been to get to the superintendent level," Sotlar said. " I'm very honored to be in this position."

Reade said the board will look internally and outside the district for its next full-time superintendent. More details, she said, would be announced in July.

Following Tuesday morning's approval of a new, two-year collective bargaining agreement with Pickerington teachers, Sotlar said his priority now will shift to the Aug. 2 levy.

The district is seeking a 5.5-mill levy, which would generate about $5.95 million annually. It would add $168.44 per $100,000 of valuation to a property owner's tax bill.

Mantia last month outlined a plan to cut $7 million from the district's budget for the 2012-13 school year, if the levy fails. It included the possible elimination of 30 teachers' jobs, all district-funded extracurricular activities and the closure of Heritage Elementary School.

Those cuts would be needed in addition to the $13 million in reductions already approved for the 2011-12 school year. The earlier moves resulted in the elimination of 125 jobs, including 82 teaching positions.

"The (teachers') contract was No. 1," Sotlar said. "We just settled that, which was huge. We all pulled together and did what's best for the district. Now, we're focused on the levy."

Sotlar also said he plans to spend more time in the community, campaigning for the levy and meeting with parents, business people and other constituents. As for pursuing the superintendent's post full-time, Sotlar said, "We'll take it one day at a time."

A Pickerington resident since September 1995, Sotlar said he has two children currently attending Pickerington schools. He said his children are part of the reason he's committed to the district and the passage of the August levy.

"I have a vested interested in maintaining the excellence," he said.

Also on Tuesday, the board unanimously approved naming Blackburn as interim assistant superintendent.

Blackburn, who will remain the district's director of special education and will serve as superintendent of the district's new community school, currently earns an annual salary of $102,724. His additional compensation will also be discussed July 11.

"I'm thrilled," Blackburn said. "I think all administrators, at least at the district level, aspire to progress."

Blackburn, who has a superintendent license, said he "eventually would like to be a superintendent," but said he likely won't seek to be Mantia's full-time replacement.

"I'd like to work under (Sotlar) right now and get some experience," Blackburn said.