Hamilton City Schools board selects new president

HAMILTON — For the first time in two years the Hamilton Board of Education has a new leader.

Margaret “Mag” Baker was unanimously chosen by her school board colleagues Thursday evening to lead in 2023 the governing body of the 9,000-student Hamilton City Schools.

Baker, a long-time civic and business leader in the city, was first appointed to the board in 2019 to fill a seat vacancy due to the death of board member Tom Alf.

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Last year she served as board vice president in 2022 as former President Laurin Sprague served the final year of his two-consecutive terms.

Joining Baker in board leadership this year will be Shaquila “Pastor Shaq” Mathews, herself a prominent local leader — including a former Hamilton Citizen of the Year winner — prior to and since joining the board.

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It is the first time for both in serving in the top two leadership positions.

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook praised both — and the entire board — for its work, especially during the historically disruptive years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“Our school board members are citizen servants who shoulder critical responsibilities and often make difficult choices for our district,” said Holbrook.

In other actions, the board also voted 5-0 to continue a decades-long tradition of its members refusing to be paid for their work on the board.

Under Ohio school law, board members can be compensated up to $150 per meeting for a district of Hamilton’s enrollment.

The practice of working without pay is rare among local boards and throughout Ohio’s other 612 public school districts.

The board oversees one of the largest school systems in southwest Ohio with an annual operating budget of more than $100 million and more than 1,200 employees.

The number of meetings can vary widely each month but besides the usual two regular public meetings can also include board work sessions and executive meeting sessions that require hours of preparation and review of school and legal documents needed for board votes.

Holbrook called the members decision to work for free “a true act of servant leadership.”

“It’s a tireless job,” he said.

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