The search for Bay Village schools’ next superintendent is down to two finalists.
Ben Richards and Scot Prebles will both field questions from stakeholders and the Board of Education over Monday and Tuesday, March 28 and 29, before the board makes a final decision by early April.
During a special board meeting Monday evening, Richards will meet with staff, students and union leadership, among others, before a final interview with the board. Prebles will go through the same process Tuesday night.
Prebles has led three school systems in the last 17 years, including the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School district, and is currently superintendent of Forest Hills Local School District in suburban Cincinnati.
Prebles said communication between the district and the community must be a priority for the new superintendent.
“There is a huge interest of the Board of Education to reconnect with its community to ensure that lines of communications are available to ensure that people believe that they are equal partners in the school district, that their voices are heard and their voice is acted upon,” Prebles told Ideastream Public Media.
Richards is currently the superintendent of the Valley View Local School District in Germantown outside Toledo. Prior to that role, he was the director of communication and community outreach and pupil services coordinator at Southwest Licking Local Schools in Pataskala, Ohio. He has worked in education for over 20 years.
If he became Bay Village superintendent, Richards said he would work to figure out “what’s next” for a district that is already high-performing.
“That forward thinking, progressive mentality of making sure that you keep moving forward even when you are already outstanding, is something that I would find very appealing, because I don’t think we can stay stagnant in this society. In the 21st century, that’s just not a recipe for success,” he told Ideastream Public Media.
Prebles pointed to the experience he would bring to the role at Bay Village schools.
“I’ve been in larger schools and another school district the same size as Bay Village, and so my leadership skills have been honed over time. I think they have a good idea about what is needed in the classroom. I think that I have a track record of working very closely with teachers, parents, administrators to ensure that those things are there,” Prebles said.
Richards also touted his skill set, experience and knowledge of the area, having grown up and gone to middle school in Westlake.
“And I think I bring some of those experiences of managing a district during a time of COVID and a lot of change that’s happening in our society,” Richards said. “I think I also bring an additional benefit. It’s not just me, it’s my wife and kids. And, so it’s a family affair when the Richards come to town.”
In a statement, Bay Village Board of Education President Paul Vincent said there were clear themes that arose from the focus groups part of the search process and the two finalists “checked many of those boxes.”
“Mr. Prebles and Mr. Richards emerged as stellar visionaries whose experience and passion for education position them to lead our district in its quest to become a lighthouse of excellence throughout Ohio,” said Vincent.
The previous superintendent, Jodie Hausmann, resigned from her position last July. Since then, Char Shryock has led the district in an interim role.
Shyrock was among the six semi-finalists for the superintendent position, but did not move further in the process. In a statement, she said she was proud of the work done during her time “that allowed students to succeed.”
“I am understandably disappointed that I won’t be able to continue in this position, but I respect the board’s decision. I look forward to continuing to support the amazing students and dedicated staff in the district in any way that I can,” Shyrock said.