For Todd Spinner, the opportunity to open a new high school in his own community was just too good to pass up.

The Olentangy school board April 13 hired Spinner as the first principal of Berlin High School, which will open ahead of the 2018-19 school year. Spinner has served for the past decade as principal of Westerville Central High School.

Spinner, 45, his wife, Michelle, and their children, 18-year-old Emma and 15-year-old Johnny, reside in Berlin Township, about a 10-minute drive away from the Berlin High School campus. While Emma will graduate from Olentangy High School this year, Johnny will be a member of his father's first class at the new school.

Spinner said his son is not dreading encounters with Dad in the hallways at Berlin.

"He's excited," Spinner said. "Our whole family embraces the opportunity to start new traditions."

He said he's glad he has a chance to open a new school and "build it from the ground up." But he added his enthusiasm about creating new traditions at Berlin High School did not make his decision to leave Westerville City Schools an easy one.

"Westerville Central High School is a special place," he said. "The faculty and staff are not only my colleagues, they're my friends."

Spinner said he's "really proud" of what he and his fellow educators accomplished in his 10 years at the school.

Olentangy Superintendent Mark Raiff said in a statement that Spinner's enthusiasm helped him stand out in a crowded field of candidates. Sixty applicants initially applied to be Berlin High School's first leader.

"There is no doubt that we had an excellent pool of candidates for this role and we were very impressed with the caliber of our finalists," Raiff said.

The three other finalists for the position were Michael May, principal of Marion L. Steele High School in Amherst; Thomas McDonnell, principal of Olentangy High School; and Zoraba Ross, principal of Cleveland Heights High School.

Spinner's employment with the district will begin Aug. 1. His salary has been set at $121,279, while his benefits are expected to cost the district about $43,000 annually.

Internal transfers to staff the new building are expected to begin in the fall, while external hiring should begin early next year.

The district has not selected colors or a mascot for the school. Spinner said he looks forward to discussing those decisions with future students and other community members.

"Part of the attraction (to the job) is getting to work with the community ... to develop all those traditions," he said.

Before he was named principal at Westerville Central High School, Spinner served as an assistant principal in the Marion and Delaware school districts. He started his career in education as a language arts teacher at Dublin Scioto High School in 1995.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick