Conrath’s successor

Board to launch search for superintendent

Wednesday, February 23, 2011  10:17 AM

ThisWeek Community Newspapers

The Worthington Board of Education will hire a search firm to assist in finding a new superintendent of schools.

"It's going to consume a lot of the board's time this year," said board president Marc Schare upon learning of the upcoming retirement of Melissa Conrath.

Conrath told the board on Feb. 14 that she plans to step down by the end of 2011. She has been superintendent for five years.

"I wasn't surprised," Schare said. "When we hired her in 2005, she said she would stay five years."

Known for her consensus building skills and community involvement, Conrath has led the district through budget reductions and financial uncertainty. At the same time, the district has retained its "excellent" rating with the state of Ohio.

Schare said the board will work with the community to decide what qualities and skills are important in a future superintendent.

It will then convey that information to a search firm, which must be chosen at the same time. The board plans to interview three or four firms, he said.

Once the firm gathers applications, the board must be able to choose to interview anyone from the pool, not be limited by the recommendation of the firm, he added.

"If any of the five of us think someone merits an interview, we will do the interview," Schare said.

He expects the public to have some input into the process.

He hopes to have someone hired by late spring to start in the fall.

Conrath said she expects to leave in October, but is flexible.

"If we need to reject the candidates and go back to the pool, we have the luxury of doing that," Schare said.

Conrath, 57, plans to spend more time with family. She hopes to continue to be active professionally, but not at the level of commitment demanded of her now.

Melissa and her husband, Jack, plan to spend more time at their home in Santa Ynez, California, but to continue to live in Old Worthington.

"We love the community, we like to walk to Graeter's and P.K. O'Ryan's and to Rush Creek," she said.

Conrath's salary is $153,824, plus benefits.

Before coming to Worthington, she was superintendent of Big Walnut schools for 11 years and was assistant superintendent in Gahanna before that.