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New Springfield superintendent named

7/24/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Stauffer to retire, Sincere taking over

Shown above from left, Chuck Sincere, who will become assistant superintendent of Springfield Local School District Aug. 1, and Superintendent William Stauffer are working together to prepare for a smooth transition when Stauffer retires Jan. 31.
Photo courtesy of Springfield Local School District
LAKEMORE — After a busy seven years in the Springfield Local School District, Superintendent William Stauffer is retiring Jan. 31.

The Springfield Board of Education accepted his retirement resignation after an executive session held at the conclusion of the July 15 regular board meeting.

Stauffer said the board has known of his intentions for several months, and members have been meeting in executive session to find his replacement. During a special July 22 meeting, the board named Chuck Sincere, director of special services for the district, as assistant superintendent, effective Aug. 1. Sincere will hold the position until Stauffer’s retirement and then take over as superintendent Feb. 1, according to district officials.

“The reason for this appointment is to give us time to work together and allow Chuck to learn the ropes, and also to give us time to find a replacement for his position,” Stauffer said. “Come Feb. 1, it should be a smooth transition.”

Stauffer has been with the district since August 2007, after being named as the replacement for Jerome Pecko. Previously, Stauffer was superintendent of the Rootstown Local School District.

During his time in the Springfield district, Stauffer oversaw some big changes, and he credits the improvements to a “team effort.

“We have accomplished great things here, thanks to effort from the board and a great administrative team and staff,” said Stauffer.

One of those efforts involved the district’s move out of the state’s Fiscal Emergency category, which lasted from May 2007 to November 2011. Stauffer said those were “tough times.”

“There were a lot of cuts, and teachers and nonteachers lost their jobs,” he said. “It was also tough closing Lakemore Elementary, which we had to do because there were less than 200 students there. And we also had a MRSA [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] issue with one student, but we dealt with that.”

Stauffer added that during that time, district officials also had to deal with deteriorating facilities at the high school.

Stauffer led the district to pass a bond issue on the first attempt for the construction of a new $42 million school for students in seventh through 12th grades. The new building opened in January after delays due to floor vibrations discovered in some areas of the second floor of the building. The matter is still in litigation. Stauffer said mediation has been scheduled for Aug. 20, at which time district officials are hoping to settle the matter.

“But the tuned mass dampers that were installed to deal with the matter really worked,” said Stauffer. “No one talks about it. We had to up front the money to be able to finish the construction project and open the school. It is a great facility for kids.”

In connection with that project, Spring Hill Junior High School, which had housed students in seventh and eighth grades, was closed. In the past few months, the building has undergone renovations to turn it into an elementary school for Roosevelt Elementary students in kindergarten through third grade, since Roosevelt was closed due to its age. The renovated building will be ready for the start of the school year Aug. 27, according to district officials.

Stauffer said the district has gotten its finances back in order and has been able to bring back positions such as elementary librarians and counselors, elementary and intermediate school art teachers, and, most recently, a drama teacher that will allow the production of a show in the school’s new theater.

Also under Stauffer’s leadership, test scores in the district increased.

“For the first time, the district earned an ‘Excellent’ rating on the state report card, for the 2007-08, 2008-9, 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years,” said Stauffer.

Stauffer said those changes and improvements have helped to change the perception of Springfield Local Schools.

“That is my proudest accomplishment,” he said. “I am proud of how everyone worked together to do what is best for kids.”

Stauffer said he is leaving the district in good hands.

“I am very comfortable with Sincere’s appointment as superintendent,” he said. “I have actually been working to prepare him to take over the superintendent’s position for several years because I knew I had a limited time here due to my coming retirement.

“He is always positive and enthusiastic; he is an extremely hard worker; he is loyal and dedicated; he is a Springfield guy; and he has Spartan pride,” Stauffer added. “I am excited about this choice, and with his takeover, the district will move forward.”

Stauffer added the board did a lot of research before appointing Sincere as his replacement.

Sincere was the runner-up for the superintendent’s position when Pecko left the district, and he was an obvious choice, according to Board President Bobby Dinkins.

“We’re excited to bring Chuck on board,” he said. “He has a tremendous passion for the children of our district. We’re going to miss Mr. Stauffer, but we’re confident Chuck will be able to step right in and continue the direction this district has been heading in in the last several years.”

Sincere has been with the district for 22 years, with seven of those years as a teacher and 15 in administrative positions, including assistant principal and then principal of Lakemore Elementary from 2004 to 2008, after which he was appointed director of special services.

“Chuck has served a much wider role [than his title], and he has performed flawlessly,” said Stauffer. “He has been efficient and thorough.”

Sincere said Stauffer has been “a great mentor” during his time in the district.

“This is a great honor for me to lead the district,” he said. “It’s a dream, and I am ready for the challenge and excited to get started.”

Sincere said that challenge will include continuing to improve student performance.

“I hope to provide a quality education for each and every student,” he said. “Our students are great kids, and I want to be a champion for everyone.

“In addition, I hope to create a new preschool to grade six facility someday,” he said.

Sincere said he aims to focus on school attendance and continue to improve technology and create an all-weather track.

Stauffer explained Sincere has suggested the use of a Springfield Police Department officer instead of using the Summit County Educational Service Center to improve attendance.

“We have had some issues with student attendance,” he said. “We have followed the procedure, made referrals to court, but nothing happens after that. We believe an officer will be more proactive. He will come knocking on doors and work with parents early on to prevent bad habits from getting entrenched. This will be more effective.”

Stauffer said the district is scheduled to receive state funding for a new building in the next year, and district officials will have to decide whether to accept those funds. Currently, the district has two elementary buildings, including Spring Hill and Young elementary schools, both of which house students in kindergarten to third grade. Spring Hill was built in 1964 and Young was built in 1965, according to Stauffer. Both building are aging and require costly maintenance, according to district officials.

“I also hope to maintain our facilities, keep a tight hand on fiscal responsibility and strive for excellence,” said Sincere.

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