By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BLUE ASH - To most it's known as the Sycamore School District, but to an increasing number of northern Greater Cincinnati school systems, it's gaining a reputation as the "cradle of superintendents."
In recent years, three school districts - Lebanon, Kings and Loveland - have hired superintendents from Sycamore schools, a trend education experts say is unusual.
"It's a rarity that in such a short period of time that three people come out of one district," said Roger Effron, president of Cincinnati-based Effron & Associates, which specializes in recruiting school administrators.
In August, Charles Mason was lured from his Sycamore assistant superintendent's job to become Kings school superintendent.
In 2002, Kevin Boys, also a Sycamore assistant superintendent, was hired to head up Loveland City Schools.
In 1999, Bill Sears left his second-in-command position with Sycamore to take over the superintendent's job with Lebanon schools.
"It's unusual that one district becomes such a farm system for superintendents," said Effron, who helped recruit Mason and Boys to their respective districts.
All four suburban school districts are consistently among the top Greater Cincinnati academic performers on the Ohio proficiency tests.
As to why so many administrators come from Sycamore, Effron said, "The district provides their administrators with many quality experiences, and ... these are also quality people."
Sycamore Superintendent Karen Mantia, starting her fourth year with the school system, agreed. "We really encourage our administrators to grow as professional educators. It shows that as a school system we try to hire the best."
Sears liked Sycamore enough to spend 29 years there, working his way up from teacher through the administrative ranks and spending his last six years as an assistant superintendent before leaving in 1999 to lead Lebanon schools.
"What makes Sycamore special is the commitment and support from the community to provide a high quality of education," he said. "It was such a great place for me that I moved my family there and all three of my children are Sycamore graduates."
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