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District ‘hiring for fit’ at Lakeview, middle school

SOLON– The board of directors for the Solon Community School District last month expanded the job search for guidance counselors at Lakeview and Solon Middle School. In the job description, the “guidance counselor or other” job title was changed to include an option for a facilitator with an administrative degree.
Many see the new positions as a step away from having assistant principals in the two Solon schools.
Tony Nicol will fill the position at the middle school and Lori Grimoskas will start at Lakeview in 2012-2013.
Each was hired as a guidance counselor/facilitator. Nicol has guidance counselor certification and is working on an administrative degree; Grimoskas is finishing her administrative licensing.
At the June 11 meeting, contracts for both were approved but not before board member Dean Martin asked about the hiring process at Lakeview.
Martin said he had no problem with the candidate, but questioned the school district’s process of advertising for a guidance counselor, then changing it to a split position. “The facilitator (position) is a backup position for this job, not the main focus.”
He said more counselor candidates were eliminated when administrative ones were not, and questioned the hiring team for not putting an emphasis on having the correct certification for this job.
“If we’re looking at this job to be more of an assistant principal, then let’s be forward with it and go about it that way,” Martin added that the job was a “guidance position to start with.”
Superintendent Sam Miller defended the hiring committees. “When the announcement was made that we were going to have a guidance counselor opening, the one word that I always used was ‘quality.’ It wasn’t ‘licensed.’”
“We wanted quality, not experience,” Miller said, “We (the schools) get it right more often than not.”
Miller was confident in his staff’s ability to pick winners. “People will tell us when we’ve gotten it right and they’ll tell us when we’ve gotten it wrong.”
Martin asked if guidance certification was the priority in the screening process and Miller responded that “it (the hiring priority) was more demonstrated experience.”
Martin was concerned with putting someone in a guidance role without guidance certification. He asked again about the lack of emphasis on guidance certification during the job search.
Miller directed Martin’s question to Lakeview Principal Jodi Rickels.
Rickels said that her committee didn’t lean one way or another for having the two certifications, but picked the best candidate for the job.
Before moving to approve the Lakeview contract, board member Dick Schwab said that hiring for fit should be the schools’ first criteria, followed by specific job skills.
Superintendent Miller said Solon’s current high school principal lacked high school experience but was a good hire.
Miller also said Solon schools typically draw a large number of good applicants which gave the district the “luxury of looking at experience. When we don’t get it (an experienced candidate), it’s because they student taught at Solon” or have other experience in the district.
Martin remained unconvinced but was the only vote against the Lakeview counselor contract.
Tony Nicol is also the new basketball coach for the high school girls’ team and a 1987 Solon grad.
Lori Grimoskas was a first-grade teacher at Lakeview. She will take a one-year leave of absence from teaching in 2012-2013.