November 24, 2014

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New Lorain superintendent starts job

LORAIN — New Lorain Schools Superintendent Tom Tucker struck a friendly and informal tone in a first-day-on-the-job speech to school administrators this morning but didn’t sugarcoat the challenges facing the impoverished school district.

Tucker, a Lorain native who worked for the district from 1980 to 2008 before spending four years as Sandusky Schools assistant superintendent and superintendent, promised greater accountability and a more customer service-oriented, data-driven approach.

He promised good communication and an open door, but emphasized that he wanted staff on board with his no-excuses philosophy. Tucker said he has high expectations for himself and district employees.

“I can’t do it alone here. I’m just the leader. I’ve got to drag everybody along,” he said in a 30-minute address at the Charleston Administration Center. “Leadership to me is getting people to do what they don’t necessarily want to do, or is difficult to do, but it’s the right thing to do.”

The district laid off 182 employees this year in eliminating about $7.3 million of a projected $12 million deficit. However, the district is expected to go broke in April even if a seven-year, 4.8-mill property tax levy that would raise $3.12 million annually passes in November.

Insolvency would trigger fiscal emergency and a state financial takeover. Tucker said passing the levy is a top priority and he will be discussing the district’s financial options with Treasurer Dale Weber.

Tucker also said a plan to move some administrators out of Charleston and into schools will be developed by year’s end.

See Thursday’s Chronicle-Telegram for the full story.