Middletown to interview 3 superintendent finalists

The search for a new leader for Middletown Schools is down to three candidates and includes a top district official from nearby Lakota Schools.

The original 12 applicants for the Middletown superintendent job has been narrowed to three candidates who will be interviewed Thursday by the city’s school board members, according to documents obtained through a Journal-News public records request.

“We are targeting board action to hire a new superintendent on May 22,” said Middletown Board of Education President Chris Urso.

Marlon Styles, executive director of curriculum and instruction at nearby Lakota Schools, is among the three finalists for the Middletown job.

Joining Styles are Gabe Lofton, assistant superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, and Carl Metzger, assistant superintendent of South-Western Schools in Franklin County.

“The process has gone very well,” said Urso. “The board values the input that has been received from a good number of people who want what is best for the Middletown school district.”

Current Middletown Superintendent Sam Ison is retiring from his position with Middletown and has since accepted the top job with Wayne Schools in Warren County.

Under Ohio law, school boards hire district superintendents and treasurers. Traditionally, superintendent contracts begin on Aug. 1, but Middletown board members are seeking to have their new district leader start earlier.

“While the new superintendent’s work year normally begins on August 1, we are hopeful for an earlier start date for the successful candidate. We are pleased with the quality of those we have interviewed, and we are confident that we will have an effective new leader soon,” said Urso.

In March, the board hired the K12 Business Consulting search firm to assist in developing a superintendent search profile and to recruit potential candidates.

School officials offered online surveys to city residents and held a series of public input meetings to formulate a candidate profile and the qualities district officials, school employees, residents, business and city leaders were seeking in a new superintendent.

In recent years the 6,400-student Middletown schools have been one of the lower performing school systems in Southwest Ohio, according to some categories in the state’s annual district report card.

Work is continuing on a $96 million transformation of the Middletown High School campus that includes the building of a new middle school and a massive renovation of the adjacent high school.

The two schools will be connected by a new gym and athletic center. The two projects are scheduled to be completed in 2018, though some high school classroom spaces will be opened this spring.

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