Friday, September 17, 2004

Shell asked to help district

Clermont school hires interim chief

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

STONELICK TWP. - Ralph Shell has two goals as interim superintendent of Clermont Northeastern Schools - improve test scores and balance the budget.

The goals are the same two he had as interim superintendent in the Little Miami School District in 2000. Shell, now 62, retired three years later, with both accomplished.

Clermont Northeastern Superintendent Charles Shreve left the district at the end of his contract by mutual agreement with the school board, said board member Jayne Mummert.

"We felt we needed to go in a different direction, with respect for what Dr. Shreve did here," Mummert said.

Shell answered the call of the relatively new board - only one member is not serving in his first term - and plans to serve as interim superintendent for one year.

When he retired to his Hillsboro home, his third retirement in 39 years in education, Shell had helped Little Miami Schools achieve an Excellent Ohio Report Card rating, and gotten an operating levy passed.

Clermont Northeastern Schools, a district of 2,025 students, is rated in the lower Continuous Improvement category, and voters will decide on a permanent improvement levy in November to avoid a $1.1 million deficit in the 2005-06 school year.

The same levy failed in August, 62 percent to 38 percent.

"We just really need to turn this district around," Mummert said. "What I've seen over the last five years, we're not making the strides we need to be making. I'm looking forward to a year of improvement and growth."

She stressed the importance of bringing the community on board with the levy.

"We have no other choice but to put this levy on. We don't have any fat to cut. We're down to the bone," she said. "But in the meantime, we're still plugging away at academic improvement and morale improvement."

CNE Treasurer Brian Switzer said the board plans to hire a new superintendent next spring.

Shell, who started work Monday, is being paid $375 per day, or $82,875 if he works all 221 days of the school year, Switzer said.

Shreve, whose last official day was Sept. 12, began as superintendent in November 1993 and was paid $96,000 per year.

He has moved to Eastern Local Schools in Pike County, a district of 852 students in Beaver, Ohio, 35 miles north of Portsmouth.

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