SALEM - The Salem school board named Dr. Joe Shivers as the new superintendent effective Aug. 1, opting for a homegrown educator from within the high school walls rather than searching outside.
"I'm looking forward to serving as superintendent," Shivers said.
The board met in special session Friday to make it official with a two-year contract at $98,000 per year starting Aug. 1 this year and ending July 31, 2016. Current Superintendent Tom Bratten announced last month that he was leaving at the end of July to explore other opportunities.
"Our board felt strongly about interviewing internal candidates first. But our priority was finding someone who shared our commitment to education excellence. After our conversation with Dr. Shivers, we knew that we had the right person," board President Steve Bailey said in a press release.
"Not only does Dr. Shivers have a wealth of education experience and knowledge, but he can apply those skills immediately without the learning curve we would have with an outside candidate. He shares our vision for the success of Salem City Schools," Bailey said.
A 1966 graduate of Salem High School who was born and raised here and raised his own family here, Shivers now leads his alma mater as high school principal. His administrative career at Salem City Schools started in 2001 as director of curriculum and instruction and director of testing and personnel. He served as middle school principal in 2005-2006, then became high school principal in 2006.
His previous administrative experience has included serving as high school principal and middle school principal at Columbiana schools and middle school principal at East Palestine schools. His first job as a teacher was the eighth grade at St. Paul School in Salem.
Shivers earned a bachelor's degree from Baldwin Wallace College and then master's degrees from both the Ohio State University and Harvard University. He earned a doctorate in education from Harvard. He's certified to serve as a superintendent.
He comes from a large family, with two sisters teaching in the district. Mary Beth and Marjorie, who retired last year as a teacher at St. Paul School, are both teaching at Southeast School. Brother Paul, a dentist, previously served on the school board. Brother Jim is a retired Salem district teacher where he had long career.
"I'm certainly proud to be in this position. I feel very honored," Shivers said.
The board met March 12 in executive session to discuss a superintendent search and asked Shivers to come in to see if he had an interest. Bailey said the board didn't want to go through the process if there was any interest, but still talked about the process. He indicated he was interested. The board prepared questions and had everything ready to go for a search, but noted what they were looking for in a new superintendent and academics and education were number one. They felt Shivers was very strong in those areas.
During a work study session prior to the last regular meeting on March 17, board members decided that was the direction they wanted to go. Shivers submitted his application on March 18 and the terms of his contract were agreed upon. He'll make slightly less than Bratten, whose salary is $104,500 per year. Bailey said they'll look at their options for filling the high school principal position.
With the superintendent's position, he said it's always worth looking from within.
"They know the inner workings of the district. They know the community. They know the students," he said, adding that Shivers "lives in the district and attends many functions in the community."
With the new state testing coming up, they felt he would be a good choice to lead the district through that. Shivers noted that over 12 years, they've added a dozen Advanced Placement courses, offering more than anybody in the area, but all quality courses taught by quality instructors. He said that's been great for Salem students because they can get college credits and even waive part of their first year courses for college. He said one student recently had his first year of college waived, which can be an advantage financially.
Shivers said there are a lot of jobs requiring knowledge in nanotechnology and biotechnology and materials joining and he would like some high tech training offered to students in those areas. They'll be exploring how to do that.
"This will give kids options," he said. "Maximizing opportunities is what we want to do for all of our kids."
Shivers said they should have three goals for students: to be informed citizens, lifelong learners and capable of earning a living.
"Make it so Salem students, no matter what they choose, they can go toe to toe with anybody," he said.
Bratten when contacted said that when he informed the board of his decision to leave, he recommended they look at Shivers.
"I think it's great. I couldn't be happier for Joe Shivers," he said. "I think he'll do an awesome job."
Shivers and his wife Madeline have two grown sons, Joe and Brian, who are both graduates of Salem High School.