2007-02-10 / Schools

Walnut Township Schools select interim superintendent

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Walnut Township School Board members unanimously decided Monday night to seek an agreement with Ron Thornton to serve as interim superintendent.

Superintendent Ed Abram announced in December that he will retire at the end of March. Thornton, who lives in Lancaster, most recently served as superintendent of Teays Valley Local School District from 1989-2006. The Pickaway County district has approximately 3,700 students. Thornton was superintendent of the 700-student Wolf Creek School District in Washington County from 1985- 1989. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Rio Grande and a Masters degree from Ohio University.

Bo a r d memb e r s ma d e their choice after interviewing candidates during a 90-minute executive session Monday night. Thornton's selection was made during the regular meeting.

It was standing room only for the regular board meeting. More than a dozen high school football players and some parents told board members they want Bill McLeish hired as varsity football coach. McLeish is currently the junior high coach and was a varsity assistant on Mike Burkhart's staff. Burkhart left for Fisher Catholic after taking the Lakers in 2002 to the playoffs for the first time in years. McLeish went with Burkhart to Fisher Catholic.

Athletes and parents told board members that the football program needs a coach who will be here awhile. "Pick somebody who wants to be here; someone who is in it for the long haul," one parent said. "We want someone who knows these boys," another parent added.

"We want Coach McLeish," one football player said. "He's proved that he is going to be here."

"He' a good guy to be around," another athlete said. "He's a great coach."

High school principal Roger Montgomery and athletic director Mike Washburn have completed preliminary interviews with 10 candidates. They want to bring back fiveto six, including McLeish, for a second round.

"We would like to have a committee to do the second round," Montgomery said. "We've got some very viable candidates for this position." He suggested the committee include the president of the athletic boosters; a couple of board members, teachers and athletes each; and a community representative. Montgomery wants the superintendent to recommend a new coach to the board at their March meeting.

A parent of a junior high c h e e r l e a d e r e x p r e s s e d disappointment about problems with uniforms for cheerleaders. She asked why couldn't parents be allowed to purchase uniforms so the squad isn't limited to those who can fit into the existing uniforms. After an extended discussion, Gary Allison, president of the athletic boosters, said the organization will take cheerleaders back into the organization and take care of the uniform problem.

Board members also briefly discussed the second reading of the district's proposed spectator behavior policy. If a spectator is removed from a game or event by a game official, security officeror a school official, that person will be denied future admittance to any district extra-curricular event for "a period of time to be determined by the school administrator." The length of the suspension will depend on the seriusness of the offense and the cooperation of the ejected fan. Board members will make a final decision on the proposed policy next month.

Last month, board members unanimously agreed to hire Kirk M. Grandy as district treasurer. He replaces Tammi Haines who resigned to take a payroll position with Lakewood School District. Grandy came to the district from the Southern Local School District in Perry County where he served as treasurer since 1992. He also spent four years as treasurer of the Perry-Hocking Educational Service Center. He worked in the State Auditor's Officebefore he moved to public education.

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