Residents pack meeting about Carlisle superintendent’s possible retire/rehire deal

Carlisle Schools Superintendent Larry Hook is seeking to retire and be rehired by the district, a possibility that drew dozens for the district’s board of education meeting on Monday.

Hook, who has been with the district for 10 years, is completing his five-year contract that expires July 31 and pays him $146,516 per year. He said he would like to stay on for the opening of the district's new $49 million school building serving pre-K through 12th-grade, which is expected at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Prior to coming to Carlisle, Hook served as Springboro’s assistant superintendent.

When a public entity allows an employee to retire and be rehired, the employee is rehired at a lesser salary. If the board chooses this option, it would negotiate a new compensation package for Hook.

Hook guided the successful 6.2-mill bond issue campaign in 2017 when 67 percent of the voters approved the local funding for the new building, which has been under construction for about 14 months. The state is covering 59 percent of the costs, and the bond issue is covering the rest. District officials said the building project was “on time and on schedule.”

After the new school building opens this fall, the district will demolish Chamberlain Middle, Alden Brown Elementary, Bobby Grigsby Intermediate and the current Carlisle High schools.

On Monday, the board held a 35-minute public hearing to gather public input on the retire/rehire proposal. About 70 people, both for and against the proposal, attended the meeting at Carlisle High School.

While a number of questions were asked of the board, there was no response from board members or Hook.

Resident James Rutherford had some safety concerns about the new building and wanted to see the proposed and actual building plans.

Tina Savage, who is one of four generations of her family who have attended Carlisle Schools, said after speaking to friends and neighbors in the community and supporting the district with the new building project it was time for a change and not retain Hook.

“I think the administration has to look at changes,” she said. “It’s time to let a fresh set of eyes come in.”

Another resident, Shawn McAtee, said she had no trust in Hook to continue as superintendent after facing several issues with him. McAtee told the board she had to go to the state to get a problem solved.

“Why not look for new leadership?” she asked. “We want a change in superintendents.”

Heather Allison questioned why the board was in this situation and was only providing a 15-minute public hearing on the meeting agenda, which she called “shameful.” She also said it’s rare to see any district leadership at school events.

Former school board member Jimmy Allen said he’s still concerned about the district after living through its biggest project in its history. He said the new building “is going up before our eyes” and passing the bond issue was “a great event.”

“Superintendent Hook was a big part of getting it passed and has provided guidance and direction,” Allen said. “We need Hook now. Don’t do any damage to our new school.”

Maggie Moore worked for the district for 34 years and also served on the school board. She said no superintendent will make everyone happy. She said Hook should be allowed to continue to get the new school building opened.

“I’m proud we’ve had him for 10 years but you have to look at both sides of the scales,” Moore said.

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