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Superintendent finalists visit

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The Yellow Springs school district invites the public to a series of interviews with the three superintendent candidates at Mills Lawn on the following dates:
• Mon., April 5: Tammy Carnahan
• Tues., April 6: Richard Spindler
• Wed., April 7: Mario Basora
Each day, events are scheduled as follows:
5:40–6:10 p.m.: reception, music room
6:15–6:45 p.m.: candidate presentation, gym
6:45–7:15 p.m.: moderated Q & A

Three school superintendent candidates will visit the village next week, and the community is invited to hear from them, ask questions and get involved in choosing one of them to lead the Yellow Springs school district into an era of change, School Board President Sean Creighton said on Monday. Each of the finalists will be given one evening to meet with the community, after which the school board and the core committee of the superintendent search process will decide how to move forward. According to the search schedule, the board plans to select the top candidate at a special board meeting April 15.

The superintendent will join the three other leaders the school board has chosen to replace administrators who, for individual reasons, have decided to leave the district or retire. The district hired Dawn Weller as the new district treasurer last week, and the board has offered the principal position of Mills Lawn Elementary and Yellow Springs High School to two candidates, who have both accepted, Creighton said. The appointments have not been officially approved by the board, and will not be announced until the board meeting on Thursday, April 8, when the board meets again. The next big task is choosing the superintendent.

The core search committee spent the past month narrowing a pool of 19 superintendent candidates down to the following three finalists: Tammy Carnahan, who is scheduled to visit Monday, April 5; Richard Spindler, who will visit April 6; and Mario Basora, who comes on April 7. The school board will begin with each candidate with an interview in executive session at 4:30 p.m. at Mills Lawn, followed by a community reception at 5:40 in the music room and a presentation from the candidate beginning at 6:15 in the gymnasium. Carnahan is currently an assistant superintendent at Greenon Local Schools, a four-school district with an enrollment of 2,000 students in preschool through high school. The state of Ohio has rated Greenon an “effective” district for the past four years, though its high and middle schools earned “excellent” ratings in 2007. Carnahan was formerly the principal of Enon Elementary, which moved from “continuous improvement” to “excellent” on the state report card under her leadership, according to the Springfield News-Sun.

Spindler is currently superintendent of the Berne Union Local School District, a system located in Sugar Grove that has just under 1,000 students. According to the Berne Web site, Spindler spent a year as the superintendent of the Georgetown Exempted Village Schools in 2006–07, and has a total of 20 years in education, including five years as a middle school principal and four years as an elementary principal at the Groveport Madison Local School District and the Greenfield Exempted Village School District. He has also taught special education.

Basora is principal of Wyoming Middle School, a Cincinnati school that includes grades 5–8 and is part of a district that has about 2,000 students. The district received an “Excellent with Distinction” Ohio report card rating last year, and its high school was ranked 69th in the nation by Newsweek in 2009. Prior to that, Basora served as principal and also a teacher of Cincinnati’s Princeton Community Middle School, which has 1,200 students. He has a masters degree in educational leadership.

In narrowing the pool down to the three finalists, board members were most interested in finding a leader to complete a team of administrators who will transition the district into a stronger and more equitable academic community, Creighton said this week. The superintendent will play a leading role in the board’s “2020 initiative,” a 10-year strategic plan to drastically improve the district’s academic rigor and close the achievement gap by the time the class of 2020 graduates.

“Change has to happen, but not short-sighted change — change that will take us into the future,” he said. “And we want to engage the public in that process and provide opportunities for everyone to get involved in deciding what that future is.”

Choosing the right leaders to fill vacant positions and working to get the 2010 levy renewal passed are the first steps toward securing that future, Creighton said.

Creighton and board vice-president Benji Maruyama serve on the core search committee that also includes administrator Susan Griffith, assistant treasurer Eva Anderson, advisor Joan Ackerman, parents Rebecca Potter and Sterling Wiggins, Principal John Gudgel, student Stephanie Scott, and teachers Sarah Amin and Aurelia Blake. The team first narrowed the 19 superintendent applicants down to six semi-finalists, who were evaluated with reference checks, phone interviews, past evaluations, in-person interviews and response to a written question about the single initiative (such as STEM, the International Baccalaureate, reading intervention strategies, reforms in special education and testing measures to identify school performance) they believed would most improve academic rigor and close the achievement gap.

The wider community also engaged in identifying a list of attributes residents were looking for in a superintendent. That group is focused on bringing in a leader who is able to unite the schools with a diverse community, and address achievement gaps in a serious and fiscally responsible manner.

To read more about the superintendent search process, go to the district Web site at

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