Rossford hears from finalists for school post
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 11:46
ROSSFORD - About 40 school district residents turned out Tuesday night to get a gander at the two educators who want to lead their district.
For both Daniel Creps, principal at Woodland Elementary in Perrysburg, and Dr. Deb Piotrowski, superintendent at Xenia, the job would be a homecoming.
Creps grew up in Rossford and graduated from Rossford High, and Piotrowski grew up in Toledo and graduated from Rogers High.
And both said that means they expect to retire from the job, with Piotrowski indicating that would be about 10 years from now.
Creps toured the school district Tuesday; Piotrowski was scheduled to tour the district today.
Board of Education President Dawn Burks said she expects the board to make a decision next week.
The two candidates in separate sessions answered a series of written questions posed by those in the audience.
How long they planned to stay was one of those. As Piotrowski noted the average tenure of a superintendent is three years. Still Rossford district residents feel they've had too much turn over in their top education post.
The last permanent superintendent Dr. Susan Lang was on the job for four years. Bill McFarland has served as interim since she left in fall, 2011.
The question on how long they would stay included an inquiry about how the candidates would get along with the school board.
Piotrowski said she'd "make sure the board listens to my decisions."
She said she recognizes that sometimes with turnover in the superintendent's chair, some board members feel the need to become more involved in day-to-day operations. She said she would need to wean them off that.
Creps said open communication was the key to dealing with the board and all other constituencies in the district.
The biggest difference between the two candidates is their range of experience.
Piotrowski was superintendent in the Millcreek West Unity Schools for five years before taking the Xenia post in 2010.
In those years, she said she has passed both operating levies and building levies. She's been successful in using state funds that allow districts to make energy savings renovations and then pay for them out of the savings accrued by the projects. Those House Bill 264 projects have been discussed as a possibility for Rossford.
She's also faced some tough situations. Xenia was in financial turmoil, and faced state take over when she came in, and her efforts to address those ruffled some feathers.
She decided to outsource support staff. There were custodians who couldn't read, and refused offers to help them. Still they made more than teachers.
Piotrowski attributed that move to a petition signed by 300 residents - out of 30,0000 in the Xenia district - asking for her removal.
The school board stuck by her.
She warned that Rossford is headed toward the same financial troubles, though it hasn't reached the cliff. As someone with roots in the area, who knows and loves Rossford, she said she wanted to help the district avoid those problems.
This would be Creps' first superintendent's job.
He strove to allay any concerns about that lack of experience by noting he has been engaged in all aspects of district operations, from curriculum, supervision and labor negotiations. "I've served in every leadership role ... to prepare for a superintendency. ... If I wasn't prepared for this position I wouldn't have applied."
Creps said he's been part of "two outstanding districts," Sylvania, where he started his career, and Perrysburg, and he would use that experience to make Rossford an outstanding district. He touted his connection to the community - though he lives in Perrysburg Township in the Perrysburg school district he still has strong ties to Rossford.
"I know this community. I grew up in this community ... I'm the right guy for this job. If you give me the opportunity, I will deliver," Creps said.
He characterized himself as "a hometown boy with a worldwide view," and he wants to assure that students now have benefit from all the advantages he had going through Rossford schools.
He said 20 years from now he'd like to be able to drive through the downtown thinking: "I was part of doing something great for this community."