Lakota Board of Education President Lynda O’Connor has lead the board’s efforts to hire an executive search firm at less cost than in 2011. The board is searching for a new superintendent to replace Karen Mantia, who was granted medical leave by the board in August. Former Assistant Superintendent Robb Vogelmann is now acting superintendent.

Lakota school leader search cheaper, has more public input

In 2011 the district spent $42,267 on an executive search firm as part of its effort to find and recruit then Pickerington Schools Superintendent Karen Mantia from south of Columbus.

This time the board, led by President Lynda O’Connor, has spent $17,900 to date on looking for Mantia’s successor.

It’s no coincidence less money is being spent because the board’s efforts to keep costs down this time around reflects O’Connor’s stance in 2011, when she was the lone board member to vote against spending more on the search firm.

“We approached this decision with the same regard for fiscal responsibility as we do any other district decision,” said O’Connor.

“In the end, the board believes there is justification for spending $17,000 to select the district’s next leader, and we feel confident in the value and the very high level of service we are getting for that investment to find the most qualified leader for the future of this district,” she said.

As first reported by the Journal-News, superintendent Mantia was granted medical leave from the superintendent’s job in late August. She was in the final year of her contract.

Assistant Superintendent Robb Vogelmann was unanimously approved by the board as Lakota’s acting superintendent, and he will finish out the 2016-2017 school year in that role.

Vogelmann has not commented as to whether he will seek the job permanently.

Lakota board members have said they expect to begin interviews in February and hire a new superintendent in mid-March. The person will start Aug. 1 prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

In Ohio, publicly elected school boards hire superintendents and district treasurers.

Lakota officials in recent weeks have held a series of public meetings – and plan to continue those in the coming months – primarily to gather public input on what qualities the community would like to see in the next leader of Ohio’s eighth largest school system.

O’Connor said, “Most important to the board in this process is the depth and diversity of community engagement.”

“The candidate profile we are building should be one that reflects the input of the vast majority of the community, as much as possible.”

Lakota Treasurer Jenni Logan, who is the district central office’s liaison to the board during the search effort, echoed O’Connor, saying, “Community engagement is an important pillar to our daily work, so it makes sense that this is a critical first step in the board’s work, too.”

“We look forward to seeing how the input from parents, students, staff, residents and our business community ultimately shapes the candidate profile and helps guide the board to their final decision,” said Logan.

Lakota board member Ray Murray said the upcoming hiring decision is one of the more important actions for the five-member, publicly elected board.

“Outside of deciding on levy timing, this is the biggest decision the board can make,” said Murray. “A great superintendent must have a strong vision for the district and the ability to communicate this effectively while building relationships especially with the parents and teachers within the district and developing a culture of high expectations that will drive high quality teaching and learning.”

AT A GLANCE:

Lakota school officials are also soliciting community input on what it wants in a new superintendent via a questionnaire on the school system’s website. Go to: www.lakotaonline.com and click on “Superintendent Search” to participate.

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