Lakota chooses Dayton superintendent as interim school leader

Elizabeth Lolli has served in Butler County before and had planned to leave Dayton next year.

LIBERTY, WEST CHESTER TWPS. —After a start-and-stop process, Lakota’s governing board has picked a regionally well-known leader to oversee its 17,500-student district in the coming school year.

The Lakota Board of Education has chosen former Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli as interim superintendent to lead southwest Ohio’s largest suburban district.

In an announcement released Thursday, Lakota School Board President Lynda O’Connor said Lolli “has spent her 45-year career serving K-12 public education. Leaving her most recent post as superintendent of Dayton Public Schools for the last six years … Lolli has over 15 years of superintendent experience spanning urban and suburban districts of varying sizes.”

Lolli is no stranger to Butler County, having been a former Monroe Schools superintendent. She had told the Dayton Board of Education she intended to stay through the 2023-2024 school year as superintendent.

“I am very excited to begin this new venture with Lakota Schools,” stated Lolli in the announcement.

“I’ve always admired Lakota for the exceptional work their staff does for their students. I feel fortunate to be leading a district with such an influential presence and to be part of the work that will continue defining Lakota as a well-respected and future-ready school district.”

Lolli will begin work July 19, replacing current Interim Superintendent Robb Vogelmann, and she will be paid an annual salary of $200,000, though other contract negotiations are continuing, said O’Connor.

The Lakota school board vote to hire Lolli was 3-1, with member Darbi Boddy opposing. Member Julie Shaffer participated in the Wednesday meeting via a remote link and was ineligible to vote.

Under Ohio law school boards are empowered to hire superintendents and district treasurers by a majority vote.

Late last week the Lakota board backed away from its original plan to hire a permanent superintendent from a collection of three finalist candidates who had gone through a series of board interviews and a public Q & A sessions.

Lakota is currently led on an interim basis by Voglemann, who was a superintendent finalist candidate in 2017 before the hiring of former leader Matt Miller. Voglemann has told the board he has no interest in continuing to be employed in that role in the upcoming school year and wants to return to his previous position of assistant superintendent.

Lakota officials have worked to find and hire a new superintendent since Miller unexpectedly announced his resignation in January.

Traditionally, the solicitation and sometimes lengthy interview process for new public school superintendents often starts in the winter months with those hires finished by early spring for the following school year.

In voting against the Lolli hire, Boddy said in a statement: “I am pleased that as a board we agreed on an interim position. My no vote on this candidate reflected my strong belief that the position not be filled by someone who, I understand, sees the United States as systemically racist, and believes in the philosophy of critical race theory, and the programs that so many parents have been fighting.”

O’Connor, however, described Lolli as having a long career that “has also included positions as a classroom teacher, music teacher, assistant principal, principal, coordinator of elementary education and assistant superintendent over curriculum and instruction. Most recently, Dr. Lolli was named the 2023 Superintendent of the Year by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators.”

“Dr. Lolli has proven herself to be an effective instructional leader and communicator in the diverse communities she has served,” said O’Connor. “She also takes pride in being a visible leader and a proponent of student voice. We are very pleased to have her at the helm for the next year.”

Moreover, the Lakota board president said Lolli will assist the members as they continue in the coming months their efforts to find and hire a full-time superintendent.

Lakota school families, residents and school employees will have opportunities in the coming weeks, said O’Connor, to meet with Lolli.

“We are also optimistic that Dr. Lolli will play an integral role in setting the vision and keeping us on pace with long-term priorities like raising the bar on student achievement and Lakota’s master facilities plan. We fully intend to continue this important work under the leadership of Dr. Lolli.”

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