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Akron Public Schools narrows down list for superintendent

Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Public Schools' administration building.

The Akron Board of Education voted Thursday night to narrow its list of potential superintendent candidates to a group of seven.

The candidates include a mix of Ohio and out-of-state school professionals, including current Akron interim superintendent Mary Outley as well as current Parma City School District Superintendent Charlie Smialek.

Outley was appointed to the interim position earlier this year when Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack left the district after roughly a year and a half on the job; the Board of Education had a strained relationship with her after harsh evaluations of her job performance became public last year. Outley, formerly the executive director of childhood education, has worked at the district for more than 30 years

Smialek has been superintendent of Parma City School District since 2018, and was Euclid City School District's superintendent prior to that.

The other candidates include fellow internal candidate Larry Johnson Jr., supervisor of secondary schools at Akron Public Schools; Jermaine Dawson, chief academic officer at Birmingham City Schools in Alabama; C. Michael Robinson, chief academic officer of East Baton Rouge Parish School System; Kenny Rodrequez, superintendent of Grandview C-4 School District in Missouri; and Nia Campbell, chief academic officer of Aurora Public Schools in Colorado. Dawson was in consideration for Columbus schools' next superintendent earlier this year.

The Board has said it plans to make a decision by the end of the month, with interviews set for next week. It hopes to have a superintendent in place by Aug. 1.

Also during the Akron Board of Education meeting Thursday, the Board appointed Stephen Thompson, chief operating officer, to the position of chief financial officer, a position that has been vacant for more than a year.

In a press release, the district says it will leave Thompson’s current position vacant and will transfer some of his responsibilities as chief operating officer to his new job. That’s expected to save the district about $190,000 per year.

Thompson most recently helped Akron Public Schools create a long-term operating plan around constructing new school buildings and closing old ones. Decisions on that front, which include building a new school building in the city's Kenmore neighborhood and replacing North High School, could come later this month.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.