Pickerington Times-Sun

Blackburn named interim assistant superintendent


Pickerington Local School District Director of Special Education Bob Blackburn has once again been chosen to serve as a temporary fill-in for the district's assistant superintendent's post.

Blackburn Tuesday, Dec. 18, was selected by the Board of Education to serve as the interim assistant for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year.

He will, at least for the time being, replace Jim Sotlar, who is leaving the district to become superintendent of the Canal Winchester Local School District.

The action marks the second consecutive school year in which Blackburn, who leads the district's special education services and is superintendent of the Pickerington Community School, has been named interim-assistant superintendent.

In 2011-12, Blackburn assumed that role when Sotlar was tapped as interim superintendent after former superintendent Karen Mantia left the district to become superintendent of Lakota Local Schools near Cincinnati.

"The board told me, 'Welcome back,'" Blackburn said. "I'm happy. I think (PLSD Superintendent Rob Walker) felt comfortable with the fact I held this position last year.

"I did have a pretty good understanding of what it entails and I've been doing some of those things already this year. It wasn't a huge jump."

Walker was out of town Wednesday, Dec. 19, and wasn't available for comment.

However, school board President Lori Sanders confirmed Walker recommended Blackburn for the interim post and said the board supported the move.

"We did choose him the last time because we didn't have a superintendent to name someone," Sanders said. "I think we're all very confident that this is a great choice."

According to the district's website, the assistant superintendent is responsible for maintaining all school board policy.

The assistant superintendent's office also handles issues that involve residence, custody, building transfers, enrollment, attendance boundaries, discipline, school safety and instructional effectiveness.

According to the PLSD Treasurer's Office, Blackburn's annual salary as director of special education is $106,497.

He also has a $5,000 supplemental contract from the school board to serve as superintendent of the Pickerington Community School.

That amount initially is paid by the district, but is reimbursed from school funds received from the state.

Sanders said the board is waiting to hear from Walker to see exactly what Blackburn's duties will be as interim-assistant superintendent, and therefore hasn't authorized any additional pay for his interim work.

In 2011-12, Blackburn was given a $1,000-a-month stipend for his work as interim-assistant superintendent.

"We didn't act on (additional compensation)," Sanders said. "I would expect to see that in January.

"(Blackburn) will be a busy man."

The board's next regular meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Jan. 14 in Heritage Elementary School.

Last month, Walker said he would fill the assistant superintendent's post on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year while he reassesses the roles of the office.

He said the district likely would seek to find Sotlar's full-time replacement prior to the 2013-14 school year.

Blackburn said he wasn't sure if he pursue the position full time.

"We'll have to see," he said. "I have interest. I want to continue to grow and I want to continue to challenge myself.

"We'll see how it works out this year."