Greg Ring Appointed Interim CEO Of Lorain City Schools
The Lorain City School Board and Academic Distress commission appointed former county superintendent Greg Ring to be interim CEO of Lorain City Schools at a joint meeting Wednesday night.
The district terminated its contract with current CEO David Hardy Jr. after difficulties with communication and management, including a dispute over employee pay. Hardy’s last day is Jan. 3.
Ring, who served as superintendent at the Lorain Education Service Center for six years, begins work on a per diem basis Friday. His contract goes into effect upon Hardy’s departure and ends in June 2020.
Planning the budget for next school year will be his first order of business, Ring said, starting with a staff audit, something he’s done in other districts.
“When you’re starting to get into expending more dollars than what you’re bringing in, I think you owe the community,” he said. “We look at those things, we look at them very closely, and sometimes things are cut. Sometimes there just isn’t those opportunities to make reductions.”
Ring will also attend board meetings, a shift from the practices of the departing CEO. Both the commission and the board are interested in better communication, and Ring said he would like to be a part of that process during his term.
“They’ve encouraged me to look at that and see if there might be some things we could do to better communicate what’s going on in the district and things that we’re working on, so we’ll start that process right away,” Ring said.
Ring said he has not communicated with Hardy about the transition in management, but he is willing to begin that process. He will be involved in finding a new permanent CEO, but does not plan to apply for the position himself.
Though the plan is for Ring to serve until June, the Academic Distress Commission hopes to find a permanent CEO for Lorain by the spring, preferably someone familiar with the region, said commission member and Lorain teacher Steve Cawthon.
“We want to collaborate with the board, we want to work together as an ADC with them, because at the end of the day we want to make sure it is a right fit for Lorain. Because that’s what we’re here for,” Cawthon said.
The Lorain City Schools were taken over by the state in 2017 due to failing grades in state evaluations. It is one of three school districts in Northeast Ohio under state control, a system established in 2015 with the state legislature's speedy passage of House Bill 70.
East Cleveland City Schools are also under state control. The Youngstown City School District is currently challenging the law in the Ohio Supreme Court. A bill to repeal the current state takeover method, which allows for the appointment of an academic distress commission and CEO, is in committee.
Hardy’s departure comes after a tumultuous tenure as CEO between being appointed by the Academic Distress Commission in 2017 and the unanimous vote last month by the same commission to remove him.
The Lorain City School Board voted unanimously Aug. 1 to place a $3.1 million renewal levy on the November ballot – on the condition Hardy would not remain in charge of the struggling school district. Voters approved the seven-year, 5.15-mill emergency levy.
“It’s been a very, very volatile year for our district, and the beauty of it is, we have nothing but opportunity in front of us,” said School Board President Mark Ballard.