After a five-month search, Edward Weber is the new superintendent of Wellington Schools.
The choice was announced Monday following a special executive session and confirmed Tuesday in a 3-2 vote during the school board’s regular monthly meeting.
He will take over the job Feb. 1 on a three-year contract that pays $102,000 annually. From Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, Weber will serve as a transitional consultant in the district and be paid approximately $390 per day.
“I commit to working hard for the children, this community, and these families to make a difference,” said Weber. “Making dreams come true is the business I’ve been in. Having difficult obstacles to overcome has been my life’s work. When I looked at Wellington, I thought I could make a difference here. That’s why I applied and I’m thankful to the board and the community for accepting me.”
Weber has served as principal of the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine for the past 10 years. It is one of three schools located on the John Hay Campus and is part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
The close vote followed residents and school board member Ayers Ratliff speaking on behalf of Tim Simpson for nearly 30 minutes.
Simpson was principal at McCormick Middle School from 2009 to 2015 before leaving to become assistant principal at Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma. He, along with William Greene, North Ridgeville Schools’ assistant superintendent of business services, were the other final candidates.
A petition favoring Simpson circulated in the district in November and garnered more than 100 signatures.
Ratliff, who voted against the hiring of Weber along with Daniel Rosecrans, contended that the board chose Dec. 6 not to hire Simpson and did not attempt to call any of the references listed on Simpson’s resume.
“Three of our board members came in and said, ‘I’m not voting for Tim Simpson,’” said Ratliff. “I found out they had not called one of these references. That hurts me. I don’t care who knows it. I told them it hurts me. I’ll tell you right now, Washington is broken, Columbus is broken, and this board of education is broken.”
Resident Mollie Diedrick said she was disappointed and angry with the board and that the community feels like it is not listened to.
“We don’t have trouble finding qualified candidates,” she said. “We have trouble keeping people here. I think it would have been in our better interest to choose someone with an investment in Wellington, someone that’s already showed us they care about our community and our children. We had a petition. We had meetings. We told you Tim Simpson is interested in being here. You ignored us.”
Ratliff also said Simpson earned a 54 percent majority of votes in a survey of attendees at an open community forum held Nov. 29 where all three candidates spoke.
Joe Calfo, a Wellington school board member from 2011 to 2015, said candidates are scared away from from the district due to “childish behavior” at the top.
“The kind of grandstanding and craziness that goes on inside this board doesn’t happen in other districts,” he said. “It chases off talent. People have to work over and above here just to get to normal.”
In response, board president Sally Stewart said Weber was chosen because of his success advancing curriculum and improving report card grades in another financially-strapped district. She added that calls were made to Simpson’s references but many were not returned.
“None of this falls on the character of Tim Simpson,” she said. “He is a phenomenal person and a great team person. None of us are doubting that. It’s been a tough decision and a long month for us. We’re behind on curriculum and we need to move our kids forward. People say our kids aren’t ready when they leave the high school level. We’ve got to get going on the curriculum. That’s why I chose Mr. Weber.”
Joanne Farr, another resident who spoke out in support of Simpson, said she and others will work to support Weber.
“We all have great admiration for Tim Simpson,” she said. “However, that does not mean we won’t support Mr. Weber as superintendent. Every one of us here, the parents in particular, are concerned about the advancement and success of our students. I saw welcome to Mr. Weber and good luck.”
Weber said he looks forward to quelling the concerns.
“I think the only way you really do that is to do it,” he said. “You can’t just say you’re going to be dedicated. I asked the board, why would I change? Every job I’ve held has been for 10-plus years. I even mean part-time jobs. Every job I’ve had I’ve found joy in and been able to make a difference. Why would I change at this stage of my life? To make that kind of difference, it sometimes takes five to 10 years.”
Weber will work alongside interim superintendent Tom Tucker in January during the transition of power. Tucker said he has been asked by the board to remain in the district as a part-time consultant through the end of the school year.
“Mr. Weber is going to finish up in Cleveland and he’ll be here a couple days a week in the first two weeks in January,” said Tucker. “Then, probably three days a week in the last two weeks. We’re going to visit the district, meet the community, and go over anything and everything.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Edward Weber, principal of the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, was approved Dec. 20 as Wellington School’s new superintendent in a 3-2 board vote.