Warren board happy with hiring

VINCENT – Members of the Warren Local Board of Education said they got their man Wednesday after hiring Kyle Newton as the district’s next superintendent.

“I feel it’s been an exhaustive process, but I’m glad we’ve got you,” board member John Nichols said to Newton during a special meeting at the administration office.

Newton, who’s been superintendent of Crooksville Exempted Village Schools in Perry County the last three years, said he was excited, ecstatic and humbled by his selection.

“It’s a wonderful school district, obviously – great teachers, great students, great community,” he said. “When you add all that together, it’s a great opportunity to be a superintendent.”

The board voted 4-0, with member Bob Crum absent, to hire Newton, 36, on a three-year contract. Board President Sidney Brackenridge said the starting salary will be $107,000, going to $109,000 the second year and $111,000 the third.

They also approved a contract for up to 20 days, at $411.54 a day, for Newton to work with outgoing Superintendent Tom Gibbs to transition into the district over the next month.

“There are too many things (to do) to start on Aug. 1,” Newton said.

Newton’s already been busy in the district, sitting in on interviews for the principal jobs at Warren High School and Barlow-Vincent Elementary. Nichols said Newton and Gibbs will make hiring recommendations on those jobs to the board, which is expected to vote on the hires Monday.

Gibbs tendered his resignation in May to take a job as an associate superintendent with the Athens City school district. In anticipation of his departure, the superintendent job was posted in early May. A pool of 18 applicants was narrowed to three finalists who met with staff and community members at a June 8 public forum. Neither those groups nor the board could reach a consensus choice and all three were rejected.

The board then turned to Newton at the recommendation of some administrators in the district who knew him through the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, a group of schools working together on Race to the Top initiatives, Brackenridge said. Information gathered from residents at the public forum played a part in the choice, board members said.

“One of the comments we heard was ‘Make a decision because we’re going to run out of time. Get a quality candidate.’ And I believe we have,” board member Bob Allen said.

Brackenridge said community members indicated they preferred someone who wanted to stay in the area and is knowledgeable about the educational process at the local and national level.

“I think you fit those conditions,” he said.

Newton is a resident of McConnelsville, where he worked as an assistant superintendent for Morgan Local Schools before being hired by Crooksville. His wife is a teacher in the Morgan district, but she’s also a Warren High School graduate with family in the area, and Newton said the family has no problem moving into the district in the future.

“I would be excited for my children to go to Warren (schools),” he said.

The timing of that move will depend on their ability to sell their house, Newton said.

The hire also got a positive review from Warren Local Education Association President Lydia Hunter, who served on an Ohio Appalachian Collaborative committee with Newton.

“He’s done a lot of innovative things at Crooksville and is very much a collaborative leader,” she said.

During his three years there, Newton said he’s faced the financial realities with which many districts are struggling. Efforts by the board, the administration and the teachers’ union in recent years not only resulted in money-saving efficiencies but also improved educational opportunities for students, he said.

The Crooksville district was rated effective for the 2011-12 school year on the state report card. Crooksville Primary, which houses kindergarten through third-graders, was recognized as a High Progress School of Honor by the state Department of Education for being in the top 10 percent of schools based on gains in reading and math proficiency over a five-year period.