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Is he or isn't he?

Skilling says he's 'not an official candidate' for Ohio position, but Granville district calls him a 'finalist'

December 08, 2010 - Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling's statements regarding his status in an Ohio school district's search for a new superintendent don't appear to jibe with what's being written south of the Michigan border.

Skilling claims he's "not an official candidate" for the superintendent position in the Granville Exempted Village School District.

"I still have not officially applied for the superintendent position at Granville Exempted Village Schools, I am only a person of interest to them," Skilling wrote in a Dec. 5 e-mail sent to Oxford district staff and select community members.

He also spoke publicly about the situation the Dec. 6 Oxford Board of Education meeting (see his statements on Page 26).

However, both the Newark Advocate, the local newspaper that covers Granville, and the Granville district website have clearly labeled him as a "finalist" for the superintendent position down there.

A Dec. 7 posting on the Granville website (www.granville.k12.oh.us) announced the other three finalists and stated "these candidates join Dr. William Skilling, Superintendent, Oxford Community Schools, Oxford, Michigan as the four finalists for Superintendent of Schools." Skilling's 16-page resume is now posted on the Granville website.

Granville School Board President Nicole Jardell did not return a call seeking comment.

Located in Granville, Ohio, which is approximately 30 miles northeast of Columbus, Granville Schools serves 2,550 students and consists of four schools.

Skilling's status as a finalist for the Ohio job came just a day after a Dec. 2 posting on the Granville district website announced that he had just been added to a list of five existing candidates for the superintendent position.

However, the district's posting noted Skilling "had been a person of interest earlier in the search."

On Friday, Dec. 3, Skilling took a personal day off from work and traveled the 260 miles (one way) to Granville. He "spoke in front of a half a dozen people" and "shared his vision" in a "public session," according to an article at newarkadvocate.com entitled "Granville schools superintendent finalist shares vision."

The article indicated Skilling discussed his views on technology, leadership, building trust and helping education keep pace with the changing times.

Skilling then talked about why taking the Granville job could be a good move for him.

According to the Newark Advocate story, "Skilling admitted the timing of coming to Granville might not be perfect for him. But he said Granville has a great many advantages for him professionally and for his family. His wife's relatives live near Columbus. And he thinks Granville would be a great place to raise his children."

Skilling was quoted as telling folks at the community dialogue session, "I think I might have greater opportunity for greater balance here."

The Granville district website indicated that this public event was the first of three "community dialogue sessions" featuring superintendent finalists.

The sessions are designed to give parents and community members a chance to meet each finalist, learn about his or her background and qualifications, then ask him questions and submit feedback about their impressions of him.

The other two "community dialogue sessions" are scheduled for Dec. 9 and Dec. 10.

Skilling's participation as a finalist in what was clearly a public forum regarding the Granville job appears to contradict another statement he made in his Dec. 5 e-mail.

"Since I was meeting with (the) Granville Exempted Village School Board privately, I thought it would be kept confidential until I made a decision whether or not to pursue it," he wrote.

Skilling did meet with the Granville school board during what's called an "executive session" – Ohio's version of what's labeled a "closed session" here – but it was followed by the community dialogue session, a public meeting that was advertised ahead of time in both the local newspaper and on the district website. The public was invited to attend and participate. It was advertised in the local newspaper that Skilling would be the first finalist to speak at the Dec. 3 public session.

Judging by what he wrote in his Dec. 5 e-mail, Skilling's not interested in taking another position in Michigan, but he is leaving the door open for out-of-state opportunities.

"I do not have any interest in leaving Oxford Community Schools to take another superintendent position in Michigan," he wrote. "If I stay in Michigan, it will be in Oxford. When the day comes for me to leave Oxford, I will be retiring from public education in Michigan."

In his Dec. 5 e-mail, Skilling wrote that he informed Oxford School Board President Colleen Schultz "prior to meeting with Granville's Board" and indicated this meeting was done "as a courtesy."

Despite leaving messages at her home, work and cellular numbers, Schultz did not return calls seeking comment.

At Monday night's school board meeting, Schultz verified that Skilling was sought out by a consultant working for Granville, whom with she spoke, and that he did not apply for the position. "(The consultant) said Bill is very loyal to your district and he did not come and seek us out," Schultz said.

The Oxford Board of Education issued a statement Dec. 3 on the district's website that read – "When you have a superintendent who is held in such high regard throughout the educational community as Dr. Skilling, it is not uncommon for other districts to be interested in his services. The fact is that Dr. Skilling has had numerous districts contact him over the past two years about openings in their district.

"While Dr. Skilling has not been pursuing any other superintendent position, he was contacted by the Granville Exempted Village School District in Ohio, and as a professional courtesy granted them an opportunity to speak to him about their superintendent position."

By Monday, the statement had been removed from the district website.

According to Granville's website, the district is "committed to selecting a new superintendent prior to the winter break." The district's goal is to have the new superintendent in place in January.

Granville Interim Superintendent Cathleen Heidelberg indicated this remains the district's goal, but that could change.

Skilling, who's been with the Oxford school district since July 2007, didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Messages were left at his cellular and office numbers.

Sources reported that during a meeting with district administrators on Monday, Skilling told them he would not be discussing this issue with the local media.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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