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Symmes Valley board selects Saunders

AID TOWNSHIP — Symmes Valley will have a new superintendent at the start of the new year — a new person at the helm for the first time in 17 years. But the new guy in charge is one very familiar with the district.

Jeff Saunders, principal at Symmes Valley High School, was chosen in a 4-1 vote at the board of education meeting Tuesday night.

The one dissenting vote came from outgoing board member John Kelley, who said his vote was not against Saunders but, rather, against the way things were done.

“I’ve told them all along, since this started, this was something for the new board. Down the road if something goes haywire, then you couldn’t blame the old board,” Kelley said.

The wishes of incoming members did factor into outgoing member Brian Pancake’s vote.

He told Saunders, “I’m 100 percent for you but the reason I am voting is on behalf of the new board. It was no more than right to let them have that right (for input). This is what they wanted.”

The three new members, Chris Thompson, Tommy Shepherd and Hope Rowe, have attended board meetings since they were elected in November and have been included in board interviews.

They will take their seats at an organizational meeting Jan. 11.

The regular monthly board meeting will follow that.

One of the first tasks for the new board will be finding Saunders’ replacement as principal.

The board agreed to advertise for the spot. The deadline for submitting a resume is at the close of the business day Jan. 8.

Saunders said he was pleased to have been promoted to the top spot in the district.

“This is a position I have been striving for,” he said. “Of course, it will be difficult to replace Mr. Ben. He’s been a great superintendent. He will be missed. It’s a privilege to take over after him.”

Saunders said his most pressing priorities will be finances, a familiar refrain amongst school districts across the area and state, and further improving Symmes Valley’s academic performance.