Lisbon lays groundwork for super search

LISBON – The school board hopes to be in a position to name a new superintendent by its April 9 meeting.

That was the tentative timeline discussed at Thursday’s special meeting called by the board to determine how they want to proceed in finding a replacement for longtime Superintendent Don Thompson, who announced last week he was retiring at the end of the current school year on June 30.

To do this, the school board enlisted the assistance of Anna Marie Vaughn, superintendent of the Columbiana County Educational Services, who said she has helped eight other school districts with superintendent searches.

Vaughn said the first issue that needed addressed was establishing a timeline, and after some discussion, the board decided to accept applications until Feb. 28. She believes this will give the board enough time to put itself in a position to make a decision by the April meeting. This would hopefully give the new superintendent enough time to work with Thompson before he leaves.

Vaughn said it is common practice to email the job opening to every superintendent in Ohio. It will also be posted on the Lisbon, ESC and Ohio Department of Education websites, among others.

The board then discussed job qualifications, and someone asked if they should only consider applicants with superintendent experience. Board member Gene Gallo said he opposed such a restriction, and Thompson pointed out the district has two administrators with superintendent licenses who lack such experience.

The board decided against such a restriction, saying anyone with a superintendent license was eligible to apply. “You weren’t a superintendent when we hired you,” board member Gary Peruchetti told Thompson, who was the junior-high school principal at the time.

“I would keep it as open as possible,” Vaughn said.

When asked specific qualities applicants should have, it was agreed the next superintendent needs to be a good manager who is also committed to “continued strong student (academic) achievement,” Gallo said.

He said the next superintendent should also possess the “ability to connect with our staff” because that cooperation has been critical to the district’s academic and financial success.

“I agree. It wasn’t always like that,” Peruchetti said.

“There is a level of trust in this school district that I think is unique, and we’d like to see that continue,” added board president Jim Smith.

Smith said the superintendent should also be “fiscally conservative,” and Gallo indicated he is also interested in their leadership skills and philosophy for holding staff and students accountable.

Vaughn offered the ESC’s assistance throughout the entire process, saying they have a sample list of interview questions from helping in past superintendent searches, which could be changed based on board input. She said they could also help develop a system for rating applicants, again with board input.

Gallo said he would have no problem with Vaughn and Thompson conducting the initial vetting process and narrowing the list of applicants to five or seven.

The ESC services are being provided for free.