Reynoldsburg's next superintendent of schools said he was attracted to the position partly because of the district's interest-based high school academies.
"Our kids are being prepared for a different world than we, the adults, were as students ourselves," Melvin Brown said last week, shortly after he was chosen to succeed current Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning, whose contract was not renewed. "The implementation of small, interest-based learning communities at the high school level is geared toward preparing students for academic endeavors as well as career opportunities that lie in their futures."
Brown, 45, is currently deputy superintendent in the Cuyahoga Falls City School District in Cuyahoga Falls.
The Reynoldsburg Board of Education announced April 6 that Brown had edged the other finalist, David Stewart, who is deputy superintendent of South-Western City Schools in Grove City.
Brown said his "entry plan" includes conducting listening tours and school and community visits so that he can get to know staff, students, parents, school board members and the community.
"We will also form a number of committees to gain perspective, attain a sense of history and culture and to provide a voice for constituents in our journey together," he said. "I very much look forward to beginning the process of transitioning into the community and working to be a strong contributor to its future."
Brown said the Reynoldsburg school district's educational philosophy meshed with his own ideals.
"Reynoldsburg has the ideas of equity, social justice and opportunity for all students foremost in its vision and those are ideals that are very important to me," he said.
Brown will be paid a base salary of $165,000 a year, according to district Treasurer Tammira Miller. He will also receive a $650 monthly allowance and a $10,000 annuity.
In addition, Miller said, he is eligible for up to $54,027 in benefits, which includes $29,248 per year for his State Teachers Retirement System pickup, $2,650 for Medicare and $22,129 worth of medical, dental, vision and life insurance benefits, assuming he elects to take family coverage.
"I think we made a great choice, although I don't think we could have gone wrong with either one," board President Joe Begeny said. "Melvin Brown brings something to our district that seems missing. There is a passion there and he generates a lot of excitement."
Board Vice President Rob Truex said Brown would bring "innovative, enthusiastic and diverse knowledge" to the school district.
"His knowledge of the inner workings of charter schools will be of great use," he said. "I feel he is focused on the kids -- providing a well-rounded education is a primary goal."
Board member Neal Whitman said Brown emphasized the importance of being able to "disagree without being disagreeable."
"Judging from all his associates that we've spoken to, this is truly one of his strengths," Whitman said. "It is also abundantly clear from his application materials and interviews that Mr. Brown cares deeply about issues of equity and is excited about the diversity of our school district."
Board member Debbie Dunlap said she was impressed with the quality of candidates brought in by the search firm Finding Leaders.
"The final decision was a very difficult one because of the stellar individuals interested in leading our district," she said. "Melvin Brown is a bridge-builder, an attentive listener and a partner as we move forward to best serve the children of Reynoldsburg."
Before his positions in Cuyahoga Falls, Brown was regional vice president from 2011-2013 of Mosaica Education Inc.
Brown is working on a doctorate in educational administration from Cleveland State University. He earned his undergraduate degree in English from James Madison University in Virginia and a master's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.
According to his resume, he has been deputy superintendent at Cuyahoga Falls School District since 2015.