Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp continues to stump for the new security tax levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. The tax hike is needed, says Knapp, to fund expanded mental health counseling in the city schools so troubled students - who may be prone to violence - can be identified and given counseling that will help keep schools safe.
Photo: HANDOUT/Michael D. Clark/Journal-News
Photo: HANDOUT/Michael D. Clark/Journal-News

Years of high turnover for school superintendents hits a lull in Butler and Warren counties

In recent years Butler and Warren counties have seen an unusually high rate of job changes among local school district leaders.

But going into the coming school year, which opens classes later this month, not a single superintendent will be new in Butler or Warren county districts.

It’s a welcomed end to a volatile school trend, said county education officials.

MORE: Why the high turnover rate for area school superintendents?

And, more importantly, they said, it signals a possible period of leadership stability that will benefit area schools.

“Butler County districts are hitting their stride now that our superintendents have become established in their respective communities,” said Chris Brown, superintendent of the Butler County Educational Services Center, which works with each of Butler County’s 10 public school systems and Butler Tech’s schools.

The situation was different from 2015 to 2017.

MORE: High school superintendent turnover rate continues to bring new faces to leadership roles

In that period, 22 public and private school districts in the two counties — including the Cincinnati Archdiocese schools and two county career schools — saw 14 had hired new superintendents.

And in 2018, Butler County’s Talawanda, Monroe, Hamilton and Madison schools saw new superintendents as did Warren County’s Mason Schools.

Some of the job churn could be attributed to an older generation of superintendents reaching retirement age in recent years. But education experts also point out there are few public sector jobs as hard as those of a school district superintendent in part because they are hired and serve at the pleasure of school boards.

In Ohio’s public schools, superintendents are hired by publicly elected school boards – with each member serving four-year terms.

Tom Isaacs, superintendent of the Warren County Educational Services Center, said often superintendent longevity is tied to the quality of local school boards.

“We’ve had a history of good, qualified school boards … that don’t have big turnover rates,” said Isaacs.

Wayne Schools’ Pat Dubbs is the most veteran superintendent with 12 years leading the Warren County school system.

But in Butler County, four-year superintendent Russ Fussnecker of Edgewood Schools finds himself as dean of county school leaders due to the retirement and job-changing exodus in recent years.

Brown, however, said the newer - and largely younger - leaders now running Butler County’s school systems bodes well for local schools.

“The energy and experience they each bring to the table promise a bright future for their students, faculty and families, and allows our districts to collaborate together like never before,” said Brown.

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