Cincinnati Enquirer education reporter Michael D. Clark recently wrote a profile on Lakota’s new superintendent Karen Mantia. In the article, Clark writes about her interest in the military, her upbringing, her experience, the proposed tax levy and her direct approach.
Below is a portion of the article:
Mantia replaced Interim Superintendent Ron Spurlock, who was hired by the school board when Superintendent Mike Taylor retired in January, having held the job since 2006.
Her parents founded an Italian restaurant in the Englewood community north of Dayton where she grew up. Working at age 14, she inherited both their work ethic and their disdain for financial excess since they never believed in or used credit cards. Those early, formative years, said Mantia, helped to later sharpen her sensibilities about the advantages of frugal school operations and the importance of concentrating financial resources toward students.
“That is where my conservative feelings about finances and hard work come from,” she said.
The former superintendent of Hamilton County’s Sycamore Schools – from 2000-2006 – she was and hired away this summer from Pickerington Schools – both districts are top rated by the state.
It prepared her, she said, for tackling Lakota’s growing list of problems. Despite millions of dollars in budget cuts in recent years, Lakota has so far maintained its standing as Ohio’s largest school system with a top Excellent With Distinction rating. But there is concern by some in the schools and community that such lofty status will soon disappear without new local tax money to offset years of lagging state funding.
But Lakota residents haven’t approved a new school operating tax since 2005 and last year twice voted down proposed property tax hikes.
Another tax levy is on the Nov. 8 ballot and Mantia said she knows her performance evaluation will include judgment on how well she rallies the community to pay more for local schools.
The key, said Mantia, is “you have to get people to want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
Veteran Lakota Board of Education member Joan Powell has worked closely with the last three superintendents and finds Mantia to be a “strong leader who does not offer people easy answers.”
“Data-based decision-making is not just a phrase to her; it is at the core of all she does. Our community recognizes that money is very tight, but they want to see the type of cost-benefit analysis of our budget choices that Dr. Mantia has underway, said Powell.
For the entire story, visit Cincinnati.com’s post “New Lakota superintendent takes military tack to problems.”