Mark T. Raiff will be the next superintendent of the Olentangy Local School District, school board president Kevin O’Brien announced Monday.
Raiff has been chief academic officer for the district since 2011. His prior experience includes positions as principal at Olentangy and Westerville Central high schools; and executive president of the Ohio Capital Athletic Conference. He was educated at Case Western Reserve University, John Carroll University and Cleveland State University.
“Mark’s depth of knowledge, both of Olentangy and the community, really put him ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of his ability to hit the ground running and make a meaningful impact right out of the box, where with the other candidates, there was much more of a learning curve,” O’Brien said of Raiff.
The other two finalists were Keith M. Bell, superintendent of Euclid City Schools since 2012; and Scot Thomas Prebles, superintendent of Brecksville-Broadview Heights City Schools since 2010.
O’Brien said the selection of Raiff was important for the district.
“It shows the investments we’ve been making in professional development are working,” O’Brien said. “We went back, and we believe Mark is the first Olentangy superintendent to be from within. In the history of Olentangy, they’ve always gone outside (the district), and we think we’re at a point now in our maturity as a district, that we should be developing our own leaders. I think it’s a demonstration that we’ve got the right capabilities internally to develop the right leadership to lead the district forward.”
The board hired the Ohio School Boards Association to perform the superintendent search, but the board made the final decision after two interviews and a roundtable meeting. The interviews were in executive session.
“We met with OSBA and looked at the 12 applicants, and cut the 12 down to six,” O’Brien said. “We invited the six in and then cut the six down to three. The last three, the night that they came in, we had a round-robin where they had a second interview with the board. They met with a group of administrators and union leaders, and then a second group of community stakeholders, which are members of the various committees across the district, plus Mary Beth Freeman from the Delaware Area Career Center and Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin, to get input.”
Raiff was described as very prepared and thoughtful in his interviews.
The board deliberated after the second interviews on June 17. All board members actively took part in the process.
“Then we really had more specific discussions with Mark over the weekend, that we thought we were far enough along with Mark that we were able to make the announcement today,” O’Brien said.
The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, where Raiff will be formally introduced, and the board will decide whether to finish contract negotiations with Raiff. O’Brien said Raiff’s salary will also be finalized.
Raiff will replace Wade Lucas, who will retire at the end of August.
“They’ll have about 30 days to work through transition issues and the hand-off,” O’Brien said of Raiff. “He and Wade have spent a significant amount of time together, and there is a very strong mentoring relationship there that really helped accelerate Mark’s development. You could definitely see Wade’s influence.”