Lakota picks district newcomer over ex-administrator for top job

Partnerships with higher education, businesses, families a focus for new leader.

Lakota Local Schools’ new superintendent says the Butler County district “was a natural fit for me.”

The Journal-News was the first to report Feb. 10 that Matt Miller — who is superintendent of Mentor Schools in northern Ohio — beat out former Lakota administrator Keith Kline for the job of leading Ohio’s eighth largest school system.

The five-member school board unanimously approved hiring Miller at a special board meeting late Friday afternoon.

He received a five-year contract that will pay him a base annual salary of $169,900 that will remain constant each of his employment years.

EXCLUSIVE: Community report favors Miller

Miller told the Journal-News “Lakota really appealed to me because it’s a great, strong community that really supports its schools.”

“There is a high potential there for an upswing in opportunities for the kids,” said Miller, who also praised the district’s teaching staff and officials.

Miller spoke to the board thanking them for the opportunity and said he looks forward to leading Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school system.

“I’m hoping that we all remember this day as sort of the day we turned the page and moved in a new direction for our kids and for our community,” he said.

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The 45-year-old Miller grew up in Cincinnati’s Price Hill community and later in the Bridgetown community in western Hamilton County.

He is a graduate of Hamilton County’s St. Xavier High School. He then earned two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and taught at Oak Hills Schools’ Oakdale Elementary in the western part of the county.

Acting Lakota Superintendent Robb Vogelmann will continue to lead the 16,500-student Butler County district until Miller’s arrival in June.

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In a cover letter from Miller sent to Lakota officials and obtained by the Journal-News through an Ohio Public Records request he said, “I firmly believe that I have the experience, drive and commitment you are looking for to lead Lakota Schools.”

“Opening doors to student opportunities is a main focus of my work. Our partnerships with higher education, the business and manufacturing sector and our families would be pillars in the success of Lakota Schools,” he wrote.

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According to community committee report obtained by the Journal-News, when committee members were asked whom they would like to see as Lakota’s next leader, Miller bested Kline by a slight margin.

The committee’s report, which came from its two dozen members who included area residents, school staff, school parents and local business leaders, was not binding on the school board’s final decision.

Lakota Board Education President Ben Dibble said Miller has “repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to using innovation and community partnerships as a means for maximizing student opportunities in a fiscally-conscious manner.”

“We heard these same themes over and over again from our staff and community feedback sessions. His collaborative leadership style will help take the great talent we already have all around Lakota to the next level,” said Dibble.

New Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller was joined by his wife Kristy, his son Mason and his father Jim during a special Lakota School board meeting Friday, Feb. 10, to formally vote to approve his new position. GREG LYNCH / STAFF (Staff Writer)

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Lakota Board of Education Vice President Todd Parnell said, “we listened to the community, the faculty, administrators and completed a rigorous interview process.”

“I am absolutely certain we got this right. He will lead Lakota into the future at light speed. This is a very special day for Lakota,” said Parnell.

Vogelmann, who previously was assistant superintendent for Lakota, was appointed by the school board in August after the departure of former Superintendent Karen Mantia, who was granted medical leave by the board.

Vogelmann was also among the original 16 candidates who applied for the permanent superintendent’s job. He will return to his assistant superintendent’s position once Miller begins assuming some superintendent duties in June. Miller will begin full-time on Aug. 1.

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Earlier this week through a public records request the Journal-News obtained a copy of Miller’s personnel file from Mentor Schools.

School district officials there, including Mentor Board of Education members, praised him in various annual reviews for his work in recent years for the Lake County school system.

Some highlights from Miller’s career include:

  • superintendent of both Mentor and Celina Schools in Ohio.
  • selected as one of the National School Boards Association’s “Top 20 To Watch” in the nation.
  • presenter at the White House for the GoOpen Initiative on Open Education Resources on the behalf of the U.S. Department of Education – Office of Education Technology.
  • accepted as one of only two Ohio superintendents into the national League of Innovative Schools.
  • oversaw the awarding of a $12 million Straight A grant to Mentor Schools from the Ohio Department of Education.
  • led the Mentor Schools through two successful tax levy campaigns.

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