Superintendent leaves, former principal takes interim post

by Laura Bednar

Nordonia Hills City Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark is resigning to become superintendent of the Westerville City School district near Columbus, effective Oct. 1.

According to a Nordonia press release, Clark began his career with the district as an assistant superintendent for two years before becoming superintendent, a position he has held for 12 years, making him the district’s longest-serving superintendent.

The Westerville board of education approved Clark’s employment contract, which runs from Oct. 1, until July 31, 2026. Clark’s base annual salary for the 2023-24 school year is $230,000.

In February 2022, Nordonia extended Clark’s contract from Aug. 1, 2023, through July 31, 2028, with a base salary of $154,000.

In his resignation letter, Clark listed district accomplishments during his tenure: ranking in the top 5% statewide and maintaining a 5-star rating; instituting the Knights Caring for Knights initiative to care for families in need; founding the Nordonia Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council; and passing an operating levy by the widest margin in district history.

“I extend my heartfelt thanks for the opportunity to contribute to Nordonia’s legacy of excellence,’’ Clark said. “I wish the organization continued success, and I remain hopeful for a bright future for all its stakeholders.”

He ended his letter thanking those with whom he worked, said he hopes the district will maintain consistent leadership and emphasized the need for improved school facilities.

Westerville is Ohio’s 11th largest school district with approximately 14,600 students. “The Westerville City School District’s dedication to diversity, academic excellence and community collaboration aligns perfectly with my professional values and aspirations,” said Clark. “Its proven track record of high performance, alignment with parent preferences and innovative initiatives … make it an ideal place for me to contribute to the future success of students and the community as a whole.”

Nordonia board of education President Chad Lahrmer announced in a Facebook post on Aug. 23 that Casey Wright, former Nordonia High School principal and current district business director will be interim superintendent.

“Wright is well-liked and respected in the community, has the institutional knowledge of how our district works and has a superintendent’s license,’’ Lahrmer said. “It is a natural transition for him to step into the role.”

Wright will serve as the interim superintendent until July 31, 2024. He is vetting candidates to fill his role as business director.

The board discussed the search procedure for hiring a new superintendent at an Aug. 21 special meeting. Members plan to review the services and pricing of the Educational Service Center, Finding Leaders and the Ohio School Board Association to assist with the search. One firm will be chosen. Lahrmer also said the board will entertain input from the public, school organizations and community forums. ∞