Archived Story

McConnell named new district chief

Published 12:14pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

CHESAPEAKE — A 5 to 0 vote by the Chesapeake Board of Education has put a retired Fairland superintendent into the top spot in the Chesapeake school district.

At a special meeting Tuesday the school board voted to offer Jerry McConnell a two-year contract as the district’s new superintendent.

“We think it is a real good fit,” board president Carl Lilly said. “No. 1 Jerry had more experience. We feel like he has better people skills. We felt like his personality was basically what we were looking for to bring the community back together.”

McConnell is replacing Dr. Scott Howard, who came to the district five years ago. Howard, who received a base salary of approximately $100,000 a year plus benefits, resigned at the end of June without citing a reason.

Howard is now the executive director of the Ohio Strategic Training Center at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

McConnell’s hiring is contingent upon his accepting the board’s offer of a $85,000 a year salary. Lilly expects the overall package to cost the district about $100,000 a year, which is about $40,000 less than Howard’s package.

“He is hired today and can start to work today, contingent on (accepting) the contract,” the board president said.

McConnell was one of three finalists for the post along with Ken Cook, current superintendent of South Point schools, who retired last year to be rehired for the same position by the board through the spring of 2013; and Dr. Thomas Gay, president and CEO of Quality Schools Group, a consulting firm near Detroit, Mich. Gay is a former superintendent of four school districts.

McConnell retired from the Fairland district in 2011 after 25 years in that job. He started at the district in 1973 as an elementary teacher after earning a degree from Ohio University. He stayed in the classroom for six years. During that time he earned a master’s in educational administration from Marshall University. In 1979 he became a principal at Fairland staying in that position until 1986 when he became superintendent.

Cook earned a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University in 1972 in physical education and social studies. He worked for two years as a head tennis coach, assistant track coach and graduate assistant at Marshall. During that time he earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling before becoming a special education teacher at Fort Gay (W.Va.) High School for one year.

In 1975 Cook joined the South Point district as a guidance counselor at the high school. Three years later he took over as principal at Burlington Elementary for 10 years, becoming principal of South Point Middle School in 1988. He stayed at that job until 2002 when he became superintendent of the district.

Gay earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Finley in1976; a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton in 1978 and a PhD, also from Dayton in educational leadership in 1999.

Before heading Quality Schools, Gay was superintendent of four districts: Southwest Licking in Licking County, Ohio, Radford Union in Wayne County, Mich., Waldron Area Schools in Hillsdale County, Mich., and Lapeer, Mich. schools. After leaving Lapeer, he became regional vice president of curriculum at Mosaica Education Inc., in New York City, then vice president at Quality Schools before heading the consulting group.

There were nine candidates who applied for the job, but only those three were interviewed by the board.

The other candidates were Lori G. Marken, special education teacher for Watson Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Jeremy Newman, Symmes Valley Elementary principal; Michael Staggs, superintendent at New Boston Local; Dr. William Capehart, associate professor at University of Rio Grande and former superintendent at Boyd County, Ky., and Rockingham County, Ohio schools; James Jones, former Ashland County, Ohio, schools and Twinsburg City schools, superintendent and Dennis DeCamp, superintendent for the Dawson-Bryant district.

“I am tickled to death,” Lilly said. “He was basically my choice. Everybody had a choice. It took two weeks to go through a process of elimination.”

Also at the meeting the board accepted the resignation of district treasurer, Sandee Benson. A replacement will be sought locally and the job was advertised Wednesday.

“She felt it was time (to leave),” Lilly said.

Deadline for resumes for the treasurer’s job is Sept. 8 with the board expected to make a decision on Sept. 10, at its regular monthly meeting.

  • Dacryocystorhinostomy

    Let’s not be taken in nor overly-impressed by someone who has “Dr.” bfore his/her name. I believe the Chesy school board learned this the hard way with former Super Dr. Howard. They didn’t check out his performance record too well, and ended up with an expensive white elephant.

    Mc Connell is a proven leader with long local superintendent experience. Dr. Gay appears to be an “academician” without a lotta “hands-on” with working with faculties and students, and the last thing the current school board wants is another expensive dud like the one they just got rid of. His record of jumping from job to job should say something.

    While Mc Connell won’t remain in the post too many years, he provides stable leadership while the board looks for a long-term replacement.

    (Report comment)

  • Poor Richard

    Well, we all knew it would not be a female, that was a given. God forbid we allow any women in a leadership role.

    It seems to me that Dr. Gay is much more qualified but then again, he isn’t a local yokel redneck.

    NOT IMPRESSED.

    (Report comment)

Editor's Picks

Fundraiser set for Coal Grove teen

COAL GROVE — A community-wide effort to win Devyn Pritchard a wheelchair accessible van from a National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association contest fell short earlier ... Read more

Special needs camp teaches bike-riding

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The father didn’t want anyone to see, so he tried to casually brush them away. But the tears that welled in his ... Read more

Antique equipment shows off history

Ohio lies in a unique position within the United States, with part of the state situated in the Mid-West and the southeastern portion of the ... Read more

Unexpected heroes

Passersby help people trapped in burning house   Heroes don’t always wear capes, uniforms or badges. They aren’t always scanning the skies, or roaming alleyways ... Read more