October 20, 2014

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Lorain Schools officially accepts superintendent

LORAIN — Tom Tucker’s homecoming as new Lorain Schools superintendent became official Thursday.

“Welcome back,” school board member Tony Dimacchia told Tucker after board members unanimously approved hiring Tucker, who was born and raised in Lorain.

Tucker, who is resigning as Sandusky Schools superintendent, worked for Lorain Schools from 1980 to 2008 before leaving for Sandusky to become an assistant superintendent. Tucker, Sandusky superintendent since 2010, said he was proud of his accomplishments there, which included consolidating schools because of shrinking enrollment and developing a five-year strategic plan.

Tucker, 56, spent 23 years as a band and orchestra director in Lorain as well as four years as Admiral King High School principal and a year as a human resource director.

“He’s one of us,” said Marie Deshuk, the administrator of the Success for All reading improvement program, who gave Tucker a hug prior to him being named superintendent.

Board members said Tucker’s experience will allow him to hit the ground running, an important hiring factor in a nearly destitute school district on the brink of insolvency and a state financial takeover.

“I’m very hopeful he can get us turned around,” board member Jim Smith said. “If anybody can do it, it’s Tom Tucker.”

Tucker, who starts Aug. 15, said passing a proposed 4.8 mill levy in November that would raise some $3.12 million annually for seven years is crucial. He promised to meet and listen to as many residents as possible in the upcoming weeks.

“People put a lot of faith in me and a lot of expectations in me being a hometown boy,” Tucker said. “There’s a lot of work to be done and high expectations. I hope to meet those.”

Tucker received a three-year contract worth $189,810 annually with a base salary of $150,000. The additional money is for pension benefits, according to school board attorney Anthony Giardini.

Giardini said the contract also includes an annual bonus of $500 for each academic indicator achieved on the state Department of Education report card and a $500 bonus for each additional 50-student increase in enrollment. The maximum annual bonus Tucker could receive is $15,000.

Giardini said Tucker — who earned roughly $130,000 annually in Sandusky — was willing to take less than former superintendents Dee Morgan and Cheryl Atkinson to return to Lorain. Morgan, superintendent from 2001-07, earned $194,872 in her final year. Atkinson, superintendent from 2007 to last year, earned $265,810 in her final year.

“This is, from an economic point of view, a huge savings over our last contract,” Giardini said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.