After nearly two-and-a-half hours of discussion and debate, the Whitehall Board of Education has narrowed its list of superintendent candidates to seven.
Board members met for a closed-door session Feb. 24, when the district's search consultant, Kathy LaSota, director of school board services for the Ohio School Boards Association, presented the panel with her top candidates.
She fielded a total of 37 applications for the position.
Board president Walter Armes said he was pleased with the interest in the post, calling the list one of the highest number of applicants in memory.
He credited a number of positive aspects about the district, including its advances in education, number of new school buildings and solid financial foothold, for the high number of applicants.
"There's no doubt about that," Armes said after the meeting. "We've come a long way."
Longtime Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy announced her plans to retire last year. After more than three decades in education, she told the district it's time to move on to other things. She has been Whitehall's superintendent for nearly 13 years.
Armes said the school board plans to interview its top seven candidates Feb. 6 and 7, with the hopes of making a final selection by March 15.
Finalists are George J. Joseph, executive director of administrative services for Worthington City Schools; Ryan McClure, principal at Darby High School in Hilliard; Tara D. Meyerink, superintendent of Buckeye Central Local Schools (New Washington); Tyrone L. Olverson, director of K-12 curriculum and Instruction for Licking Heights Local Schools; Michael Scott Reeves, executive director of secondary academic affairs and extracurricular programs for Westerville City Schools; Richard D. Smith Jr., superintendent of the North Union Local School District; and Michael B. Staggs, superintendent of the New Boston Local School District.
Armes said he has been pleased with the superintendent search thus far.
"If anyone has done the research, they've learned about Whitehall's successes," he said, "and they want to be a part of that. The more pluses you have in your district, the more top candidates that apply. And I think that's where we are now."
According to LaSota, marketing materials and job information advertising the position were sent to more than 3,000 entities in Ohio and other parts of the country, including to public school districts, higher-education institutions and other education-related agencies, along with individuals who had shown interest in the area.
LaSota said she also worked in conjunction with the National Affiliation of Superintendent Searchers, a national network of search professionals sponsored by the National School Boards Association, in the quest to find the right match for Whitehall.
Of the 37 applications that were received, LaSota said, four states were represented, and years of administrative experience ranged from five to 37.
She called it a very diverse group of applicants.