SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Board of Education recently approved the resignation of Superintendent Angela Hamberg, effective July 31.
“I just want to take a minute to thank Angie for every ounce of blood, sweat and tears that she has poured into this district,” board member Sherri Dorsch said during the April 21 meeting. “For all the sacrifices that she has made for my kids, for your kids. Angie has put together an extraordinary team of professionals that are so dedicated to public education, and so dedicated to improving the lives of children that come into these buildings every day. … She has led us through so many challenges.”
“Certainly, this resignation is a difficult one to see on the agenda,” Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper said. “Angie … has led with such an intelligent mind. Angie has dedicated her complete self to this district with countless hours, many of which were not seen in the public eye. … She is going to leave a very large void to fill.”
Board member Stephen Fujii read from her resignation letter.
“’Finally, it is my hope with this resignation that our community and Board of Education can come together to once again focus on students and their learning,’” Fujii said. “Just in that very sentence, I think she is giving us some guidance about where to go in our future. And that’s about as classy as you can really be … I share that hope.”
“I think it took a lot of courage for her to make this resignation, but her family has to come first, and I wish her the best,” board member Alice Nicks said.
“I agree as a working mother that family must come first,” said board member Angela Graziosi. “I support Angie and wish her all the best and will keep her in our prayers.”
“Although we do disagree on some things, she’s probably the most passionate person for her job that I have seen in a long time,” board President Doug Crowl said. “I believe she made the correct decision.”
“I will miss her and wish her well,” said Treasurer Jeremy Buskirk. “I saw her as a great advocate for kids, who cared about the community and took a very close eye on the finances.”
The board next went over the superintendent search process from two organizations.
First was the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA), which will work for the board. The Big Walnut Board of Education was told this will be the most important decision the board will make, and it is the board’s decision alone. It was said Big Walnut has been an OSBA member for 66 years.
The OSBA representatives said the board is currently working on nine superintendent searches and its timeline typically takes 60 days.
Next, the Big Walnut BOE heard from members of the Educational Service of Central Ohio (ESC) who said they are currently doing six superintendent searches.
One of the members of ESC is Wade Lucas, a former superintendent for Olentangy Local Schools. Lucas said the ESC can expedite the search if necessary.
“This is a good district, and you’re going to get a lot of good candidates,” Lucas said.
The board then discussed whether to handle the search process internally among themselves, or should they use one of the two firms that had just spoke to them, or two other firms. Several districts around the state, including Buckeye Valley, are also seeking superintendents.
“Our students deserve a superlative superintendent,” Fujii said. “There’s nothing more important.”
Crowl appointed himself and Fujii as an ad hoc committee to get quotes and other information.
During a special meeting held April 27, the board reiterated the importance of haste in its search since superintendent contracts typically start on Aug. 1 instead of at the end of the fiscal year. Fujii said a third firm, K12, provided information on the search.
“We have not been very quick at doing anything yet,” Fujii said, referring to the board drawing laughs from the audience. “We’ve got six weeks until prime hiring season. Right now, the only thing we should be … focused on finding ourselves the best candidate.”
Crowl again asked if the ad hoc committee should handle the search itself instead of an outside firm. After much discussion, the board voted 4-1 to stay in-house, with Dorsch voting no.
The board then went into executive session for more than an hour.
The next board meeting is May 19.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.