Blaming legislative ‘turmoil,’ state board of ed puts off superintendent search

By: - December 14, 2022 4:45 am

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On the heels of proposed legislation to make major changes to the Ohio Department of Education, the State Board of Education hesitated to make decisions in the superintendent search process.

In an 11-4 vote, the board pushed to February any decisions on a search firm that would bring superintendent candidates for board review. The vote came the day after search firms made presentations to the board on their plans for the search.

Several members of the board, starting with John Hagan, said uncertainty in the fate of a legislative overhaul of the state agency caused them to rethink hiring a search firm before the new year.

The Ohio House is currently considering Senate Bill 178, which would rename and restructure the department, along with reducing the roles under the state board’s purview, though the superintendent search was said to be staying with the board, according to the bill’s sponsor.

Some of Hagan’s fellow board members pointed out that the role was still spelled out in the bill, but the measure to punt the search carried on.

“I think it’s inevitable that if (General Assembly doesn’t) pass it before the end of the year, that that will pass in the budget and the whole structure will be totally different,” Hagan told the board on Tuesday.

Board Member Walt Davis said the superintendent position was “in flux” and a search team may struggle to attract candidates “with this kind of turmoil that’s going on in our legislature.”

SB 178 has already passed the state senate, and has had two hearings in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.

The committee is scheduled to have another hearing on the bill on Wednesday, and has already been approved to see a House vote the same day, pending committee passage.

If it doesn’t make it through the current General Assembly, which ends at the end of December, Senate President Matt Huffman said he will be bringing it back up in the next General Assembly.

One of the main complaints made by supporters of the bill was that the overhaul was that the board had dragged its feet for far too long on the superintendent search.

Board President Charlotte McGuire had hesitations about entering into a contract with a search firm without knowing what the budgetary situation would be after SB 178 was passed or not passed.

“One of the consequences of going forward is actually encumbering the amount of money in that contract,” McGuire said.



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.