‘Interim’ no longer
By Jane Beathard
Members of the London City Schools Board of Education removed the term “interim” from Superintendent Tom Ben’s title on Tuesday by approving a two-year contract for the veteran administrator.
Board members hired Ben a year ago to oversee district operations while the search for a full-time successor to former Superintendent Steve Allen continued. However, Ben apparently found a “home” at London.
“There are so many assets here,” Ben said. “The board, community, staff and students seem to appreciate what I’m doing.”
The new contract will keep Ben at the helm of London schools until July 31, 2015. His annual salary is $109,000 for 260 work days.
Ben brought 40 years of experience to the job, including 18 years as a superintendent in southern Ohio.
“Since arriving at London City Schools, Mr. Ben has worked diligently to provide a safe school environment and has effectively demonstrated his commitment to ensuring a quality education for each child,” a district press release said.
Board members praised Ben’s productive working relationships with community leaders, other administrators and teaching and non-teaching staff members.
“The board believes the school district and the community will substantially benefit with Mr. Tom Ben serving as its next superintendent,” the release concluded.
Ben commutes to London daily from his home in Springboro — a 54-mile drive each way. He said a love of education keeps him going, despite the distance.
“It’s a labor of love,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, Ben presented board members with a list of $287,678 in immediate personnel and maintenance needs facing the district. Most were eliminated or postponed during the 2010-11 financial crunch.
A junior high school guidance counselor topped the list. Ben estimated an additional counselor would cost the district $71,410. Repairs to the Terry L. Nance Track at the high school athletic field, estimated at $59,500, were also a priority.
Third on Ben’s list of needs was re-instatement of high school busing at $64,000 annually.
“It’s a fundamental service we should provide,” Ben told board members. “We are losing students due to lack of (high school) busing.”
He suggested alignment of junior high and high school busing schedules to save time and money.
Additional items on Ben’s list included hiring a library aide at the elementary and a secretary-library aide at the middle school, as well as repairs to parking lots at the campus. Combined, those staff additions and capital improvements could run $92,768.
However, there was no mention on Tuesday of new taxes to cover those expenses.
President Marv Homan said the board will delay any decision on a new levy issue for at least two months to see if current tax revenue increases.
In other meeting action on Tuesday, school board members:
• Approved an enterprise zone agreement between the City of London and Nissen Chemitec America for an expansion of the company’s facility on East High Street. The agreement allows for a 50 percent tax abatement on the plant expansion for the next 10 years.
• Hired a substitute teacher and secretary-aide.
• Approved supplemental contracts for six coaches, coordinators and music directors.
• Approved supplemental volunteers for high school music and track programs.
• Hired Kathleen Bates to direct vocal music concerts for second and fifth grades and accepted $4,135 in grants from London Music Boosters to pay for elementary, middle and high school programs.
• Hired full-time reading support teachers to work with kindergarten and first-grade students. Federal title money will cover $47,000 in salaries.