Warren board hires 2 new school principals

VINCENT – The Warren Local Board of Education hired two principals and approved a new administrative salary schedule during a special meeting Monday.

Belpre High School Assistant Principal Ben Cunningham received a three-year contract to be principal of Warren High School, while Robin Carter, the principal of Roosevelt Elementary School near Point Pleasant, W.Va., was hired as the Barlow-Vincent Elementary School principal, also on a three-year contract. The vote was unanimous.

Cunningham and Carter will officially join incoming Superintendent Kyle Newton as new district administrators on Aug. 1, though all three will be involved in the interviewing of assistant principal candidates for their schools this week. Another special meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. next Monday at the administration office in Vincent to vote on the hiring of those individuals and possibly an athletic director.

“By that time, we will have just about everybody in place to make a run at next year,” board President Sidney Brackenridge said.

A Warren Township resident whose wife previously worked in the Warren Local district, Cunningham, 40, has been assistant principal at Belpre High School for two years. Prior to that, he worked as the district psychologist and coordinator for special education and other initiatives.

“It’s an honor to represent Warren Local Schools, its students, parents, staff and the communities it represents,” he said.

Cunningham said there are great things going on in the district and his first order of business will be to work to maintain that at the high school.

Newton said he got to know Cunningham through the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, a regional group of schools pooling resources for the federal Race to the Top program.

“He’ll be able to step right in … and hit the ground running,” Newton said.

Carter was unable to attend Monday’s meeting. Newton said she has a strong background in special education that will be valuable at Barlow-Vincent. She’s also a strong collaborative leader, he said.

“I think she’ll be able to carry forward what (departing Principal) Stephanie Starcher was doing in that building,” Newton said.

Starcher was hired in May as the superintendent of Fort Frye Local Schools, while Warren High School Principal Dan Leffingwell was named superintendent of Noble Local Schools. Newton is taking over for Superintendent Tom Gibbs, who is leaving at the end of July for an associate superintendent position with Athens City Schools.

With four of the district’s six building-level administrative positions turning over and the Little Hocking and Warren Elementary principals on the job for only a year, the board and administration installed a new salary schedule, with every administrator beginning at step zero. That resolution passed unanimously following a more-than-90-minute closed, executive session Monday.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of that situation,” Newton said. “You don’t ever have that.”

Brackenridge said the concept of an administrative salary schedule had been discussed off and on before Newton’s hiring. Newton said he supports the concept, which cuts down on salary negotiations for new hires by having a set range. However, the superintendent can place someone wherever on the scale between step zero and 10 that he deems appropriate.

“It’s predictable and reliable,” Newton said.

Cunningham’s starting salary is $81,839.26, while Carter’s is $70,961.89. Little Hocking Elementary Principal Brent Taylor and Warren Elementary Principal Trisha Delaney will each have an annual salary of $64,746.25, slightly higher than their base salaries when they were hired last year. Individuals will move up one step per year of service with the district.