Whitehall News

Whitehall-Yearling superintendent search on track

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Whitehall City School District's search for a new superintendent is on track, according to involved with the process.

Longtime Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy announced her plans to retire earlier this year. After more than three decades in education, she told the district it's time to move on to other things.

Dobbert-Meloy handed board members her letter of resignation in August during an executive session meant to discuss her annual review. She said she would not leave, though, until the district's construction project is completed and the final building, Whitehall-Yearling High School, has been dedicated.

The new school is slated for completion sometime next summer.

Whitehall contracted with the Ohio School Boards Association earlier this year to aid in their superintendent search. It's the same agency that found Dobbert-Meloy for Whitehall more than a decade ago.

According to Walter Armes, school board president, marketing materials informally were approved last month and have been circulated among educational professionals for about a week or more.

"As far as I know, we are where we want to be," he said.

"Recruiting is happening aggressively as we speak," said Kathy LaSota, director of school board services for OSBA. Marketing materials and job information have been sent to more than 3,000 entities in Ohio, she said, as well as to other parts of the country, including public school districts, higher-education institutions and other education-related agencies, along with individuals who have shown interest in the area.

LaSota said she also is working in conjunction with the National Affiliation of Superintendent Searchers, a national network of search professionals, in the quest to find the right match for Whitehall, she said.

OSBA has been aiding districts in their superintendent searches since 1981 and is much more refined and attuned to attracting good candidates than it has been in the past, LaSota said.

"Our search has evolved into a higher level and is strategically designed," she said.

Much time and effort are put into not only finding a qualified professional but also one who would match a specific school district's strategy and needs. That means letting the school board drive the search, not OSBA, LaSota said.

Applications for Whitehall's position will be accepted through Jan. 16, she said, with screenings set for late January at OSBA.

Also in January, she plans to host a community and staff focus group in an effort to get feedback from others about what they would like to see in a new superintendent.

LaSota is expected to return to school board members by Jan. 24 with a list of eight to 10 candidates. She said the board would conduct interviews from Jan. 30 through Feb. 22, with the goal of making a final selection by March 15.

OSBA aids in about one-third of the superintendent searches in the state, LaSota said. Another third of the state's superintendent searches is conducted by private corporations, with the final third being conducted by school boards themselves.

Because of some significant changes in the State Teachers Retirement System, many staff members are retiring sooner, LaSota said. In fact, OSBA handles about 25 superintendent searches a year. Currently, OSBA has 10 active searches being conducted this month alone, with another 19 proposals on the table.

LaSota said she is confident that the high number of superintendent searches in the area would not adversely affect Whitehall's prospects, though.

"The process won't be minimized at all," she said.

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