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Lorain Schools chief to seek CEO job

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    Lorain Superintendent Jeff Graham

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE FILE

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LORAIN — Lorain Schools Superintendent Jeff Graham will be applying to lead the district next year as its CEO.

He said Thursday night that based on what he thinks he knows, he will apply when the position is posted.

“I said all along I wanted to make sure that my values aligned with what the commission was looking for before I made any final decisions,” said Graham, who was hired in 2015 and is in the middle of a three-year contract. “And I think that’s the case, so I’ll be applying.”

The Lorain district is seeking a CEO after falling test scores and poor state report card grades caused it to be placed under academic distress in 2013 as well as the purview of state House Bill 70.

House Bill 70, which was passed in 2015, states that if a district is in academic distress and under the supervision of an academic distress commission for four years, the old commission will be disbanded and a new one will be appointed to hire a CEO to take over the district.

A CEO would have the full authority of a superintendent as well as most of the powers given to the school board with the exception of putting levies on the ballot.

After two years, the CEO also would have the ability to take a failing building and turn it into a charter school, something Graham has said caused him to pause about applying for the CEO position when it became available.

“If that’s the expectation of this person, I couldn’t do it,” he has said. “If the commission feels like I’m the right fit, then I would love to stay in Lorain. I would love to stay in Lorain for as long as I’m able to as long as it’s the right fit for me and for the district.”

Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who appointed one of the five members of the newest academic distress commission at the beginning of April, voiced his support of Graham as CEO at his February State of the City address, which he reiterated Thursday.

“Jeff gets it,” Ritenauer said at the time. “Value is being added to the schools every year, even though the state report cards keep changing. Go look at the new high school. Look in the classrooms. He gets it.”

Earlier this month, the commission hired Chicago-based executive search firm Atlantic Research Partners to head the CEO search, which needs to be completed by July 25, at a cost of $20,000.

“They have a really strong reputation and have worked with distressed districts like Lorain before,” commission chairman Tony Richardson said at the time. “They stood out to me because of their approach to data and utilizing online in the search process.”

According to Atlantic Research Partners’ website, all CEO-related applications need to be turned in by July 10, noting the quick turnaround and candidates should “please be sure to apply early.”

In the meantime, the commission will host community engagement sessions about the search 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Visit lorainschools.org/CEOsearch for details.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @KatieHNix.


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