By RON CRAIG
Lakota Local School District’s superintendent has accepted a similar position with Fremont City Schools.
Jon Detwiler told the Review Times he was offered the Fremont position Tuesday night, and he has accepted it.
“it’s a big step up,” Detwiler said. “It is too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Detwiler will be replacing Traci McCaudy, retiring Fremont superintendent.
The move will take Detwiler from a district of about 1,100 students to one that is four times that size.
“Fremont (City Schools) has about 4,400 students, so it’s a big jump,” Detwiler noted.
Still, the decision to take the Fremont position was not an easy one for the seasoned superintendent. Detwiler said it was with a heavy heart he made the decision to leave Lakota.
“Lakota is such a great school district that if this was not such a great opportunity, I would have no other reason to leave.”
Detwiler said he is expecting to take the new position Aug. 1.
At last week’s school board meeting, board members were lobbied by district residents and school employees to increase Detwiler’s salary, if that’s what it took to keep him at Lakota.
“I have been an educator for 25 years and I have worked with a lot of administrators, but I have witnessed a great deal of improvements here at Lakota with Mr. Detwiler in charge,” said Deb Streacker, a teacher at Eastwood Local Schools and a Lakota district resident with two children who are Lakota students.
“He is a unique administrator, just what this district needs. I don’t know if it’s money, but we hope you can convince him to stay,” Streacker said at the board meeting.
Dave Ritter, Lakota’s varsity track coach, compared Detwiler to several of his predecessors at the board meeting last week.
“We’ve had some nice leaders here, but we’ve never had such a community draw like we’ve had with Mr. Detwiler,” Ritter said, referring to the support the schools receive under his leadership. “He works well with the staff, and he is greatly respected.”
Ritter summed up his remarks by saying, “There is a difference between a great leader and a great administrator, and he is both.”
After the public provided their input on the subject, board president Chris Chalfin agreed.
“The board echoes your sentiments. We want him to stay,” Chalfin said.
Detwiler said his salary for the Fremont City Schools position is still being worked out, but noted the difference between that and his current Lakota salary will be “significant.”
Detwiler had a leg up on other candidates for the Fremont post as he spent 15 years in that school system as a teacher and principal. After he left Fremont, Detwiler went on to become a principal at a Clyde middle school for the next seven years. He is currently in his fourth year as Lakota’s superintendent.
Lakota’s school board members are likely to turn to Northpoint Educational Service Center in its search for a replacement for Detwiler.
“That’s who they went through when I was hired,” Detwiler said, adding finding a replacement at this time of year should not prove to be too difficult. “As it gets later in the summer, finding someone for the fall gets a little trickier.”