Last year, while in the first year of a three-year contract as Marietta schools superintendent, Bruce Thomas told the Warren Board of Education that his skills were better matched with Warren than Marietta.
That sounded good.
This year, while in the first year of a three-year contract as Warren schools superintendent, Bruce Thomas told the Lorain Board of Education that his skills were better matched with Lorain than Warren.
That sounds like a broken record.
When Thomas came to Warren from Marietta he brought a lot of credentials and plans that sounded good.
Last fall, Warren's third-graders improved by 17 percent over last year on the Fall Ohio Achievement Assessments, and every building showed academic gains. Thomas boldly promised to deliver Warren from academic watch, where it has spent 10 of the last 11 years.
Parents, administrators, teachers and community leaders noticed an increase in morale in Warren's schools. Mentoring from the community's ministerial alliance was embraced. A superintendent's advisory council was assembled. An expectation for success permeated the hallways.
Within months, it all changed.
The confidence that Thomas exuded turned into arrogance as he told the school board he wanted to retire, then get rehired so he could double dip.
The professionalism that Thomas demanded turned into a loss of respect as he flaunted a romantic relationship with a newly hired subordinate.
Then came Thomas' refusal to move into the district as his contract required. Then came his resignation. And thus, the broken record of failed Warren school superintendents continues.
The board of education seems to have made the right moves this time. Its members called Thomas' romantic relationship into question, they reacted coolly to his retire/rehire request, they eliminated his girlfriend's position, and they raised the residency question. As for his hire in the first place, well, Thomas fooled a lot of people.
One flaw this time is again in the contract. When the board bounced former Superintendent Kathryn Hellweg, taxpayers had to pay more than $100,000 for breaking the contract. This time it's the superintendent breaking the contract, yet taxpayers will pay a handsome sum in vacation and sick time even though Thomas is not sick.
It shouldn't be this hard to find the right fit at superintendent. While Warren struggles with academics and discipline in the schools, the town has a groundswell of pride and support from all walks of life outside of school. From neighborhood groups to prominent business leaders, people care. By tapping those resources, a superintendent could find Warren a great place to bolster a career.
Maybe Warren's BOE needs to more effectively tap those resources to bolster the selection process.