The New Albany-Plain Local school board on March 18 hired Michael Sawyers as chief of operations and strategic development.

The New Albany-Plain Local school board on March 18 hired Michael Sawyers as chief of operations and strategic development.

Sawyers will replace Ken Stark, who left in December after being hired as director of operations by the South-Western City School District in Grove City.

"I'm excited to come to New Albany," Sawyers said. "It's a wonderful school district with great kids and it's on the cutting edge. I'm ultimately going to help with what's coming next."

Sawyers most recently was the acting state superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education.

He will start his new job in New Albany on April 8 and will earn $116,000 annually, excluding benefits, which district officials said they were not yet able to calculate.

Stark was earning $106,086 and $47,961 in benefits when he left New Albany.

The responsibilities of the position have changed somewhat since Stark left. Stark was known as the director of operations and was in charge of "all campus operations, security and safety, capital planning and construction, coordination with city and township and public services," according to district officials.

The new job description includes those responsibilities and "greater involvement in business process and performance management, human resources systems and quality metrics and processes," as well as a different title.

Sawyers said he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in education and education administration from the University of Akron. He has done post graduate work at the Ohio State University, Cleveland State University and Ashland University and is in the process of completing his doctorate degree.

Sawyers said he started his career as a Spanish teacher and taught in elementary, middle and high schools before working as a deputy principal and assistant principal in Parma City Schools.

He worked as director of curriculum assessment and as a human resources director before becoming the superintendent of Perry Local Schools in northeast Ohio.

He then became assistant superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education, implementing the Race to the Top program, which offered $4.35 billion in grants from the U.S. Department of Education for educational innovation and reforms.

Sawyers was named acting superintendent of instruction for the Ohio Department of Education in August when Stan Heffner resigned, and interviewed for the official position. He and former Reynoldsburg superintendent Richard Ross were finalists for the job, but the State Board of Education on March 12 voted 10-6 to name Ross to the position.

Sawyers said he was interested in the New Albany job because he made a quality-of-life decision and wanted to be able to spend time with his two children.

"I needed to get back to my family," he said.