Warren’s would-be executives grilled

BARLOW – Three candidates for the job of superintendent of schools for the Warren Local School District met with the public Saturday at Warren High School.

After a brief introduction, the candidates took turns meeting with a staff group and two community groups, after which the groups were asked to rank the candidates in order of their preference.

Candidates for the job of superintendent of schools were:

Michael B. Edwards recently resigned as special education director of Clear Fork Valley Schools in Richland County.

Curtis M. Clough is completing his second year as superintendent at Strasburg-Franklin in Tuscarawas County.

J. Gregory Grant is finishing his third year as principal at New Lexington Elementary in Perry County.

In his meeting, Edwards said in filling administrative positions he would look for people who have a passion for education. He wants to show administrators where they are and what direction they want to go and support them.

Edwards said the only way to get anything done in a school system is to have the trust of the community.

“You have to have 100 percent integrity at the superintendent level for your community,” he said. “If I tell one person one thing and tell someone else something completely different, there will be mistrust. You have to keep in mind why we are here and it is for the education of children.”

Edwards was asked about proposed changes in state funding.

“I’m very much in favor of a more equitable funding formula,” he said. “I think it’s important that we take an active role as superintendents, as teachers and as parents in letting our leaders know our feelings about equity of funding issues.”

Clough has 24 years experience in education in Ohio and Arizona in public schools and higher education.

When asked about the Race to the Top, he said his current district is not in the program but as part of the Stark County consortium for Race to the Top they have been part of meetings to learn more about it.

“I’ve got quite a bit of extensive experience to know what it is,” he said. “I just asked my board after a year of being there why they didn’t take the money when we will be judged on those standards in two years anyway.”

Clough said he sees Warren as a district on the verge of being a great district and was drawn to the area to also earn an doctoral degree in instructional design at Ohio University. He said he feels the Warren Local board has a great idea of what it wants for the community and district.

Clough said he wants to make sure the schools and community connect.

“You need to understand the community for the community to understand the schools,” he said. “Part of the community’s job is to hold us accountable.”

In his own sessions, Grant was asked how he would work to improve test scores for students in special education and low socio-economic levels that have not done as well as other students in the district.

“You’re not in any different boat than mostly every school district across the state of Ohio or the nation,” he said. “When I went to New Lexington I put in place inclusion, 90-95 percent of all special ed students are included in the classroom because my philosophy is you are going to take a state test and if I don’t expose you to the material I can pretty much guarantee you will fail.”

Grant said his goal was to get them in the classroom and give them the support they need.

“It might be some extra special help with the intervention teacher or a small group of students,” he said, adding this helps the teachers communicate what they are doing and how they can help reinforce what they taught.

Grant said arts education is important for him.

“I do believe the arts are as important as any other extra-curricular activity,” he said. “Your music program, your performing arts, visual arts – all are just as important as any other sporting event or athletic event. Keeping them intact is as important as keeping other programs intact.”

Warren Local School District President Sidney Brackenridge said the school board will meet in a special session to consider its choice at 6:30 p.m. today at the board office at 220 Sweetapple Road, Barlow. He said he did not know if the board of education would make its decision then or at the next regular meeting.