Gone Too Soon?

This is an addition to a blog I first did in 2011.

An update on the status of Bruce Thomas, the former Marietta School Superintendent who moved to an identical position in Warren, Ohio (near Youngstown) last year.

I received a tip from former WTAP anchor-reporter Leslie Barrett (who now is with Youngstown's NBC affiliate WFMJ) , that Thomas abruptly resigned from Warren City Schools the week of June 25th.  His resignation was accepted June 28th by the board of education, which said Thomas told the board he was less comfortable with the board's decisions.

As he was in Marietta, Thomas was at the end of the first year of a three-year contract he signed when he went to Warren. News media in northeast Ohio also report that Thomas is a candidate for the superintendent's job in Lorain, Ohio.

I repeat what I said last year: I have nothing personal against Thomas. But he increasingly sounds comparable to what are called "one and done" college basketball players who jump to the NBA after their freshman years in college (at one time, they might not even have been able to play on the varsity college teams as freshmen).

Lorain is located near Cleveland, and perhaps Thomas still wishes to be near the city from where he came to Marietta.

But I don't think leaving after one year, a school system to which one made a three-year commitment, is good for education or a community.


Before I get into the main point of this blog, let me make the point that I have nothing against Dr. Bruce Thomas, the soon-to-be-departed superintendent of Marietta City Schools.  I met him last fall, when the school system was working for the passage of a school levy (which at the time was defeated), and found him quite friendly and enthusiastic about the school system.

But I believe he...and, more importantly, the school system...might have accomplished a lot more had he stayed longer.

Thomas, who had been in the Cleveland City school system, was hired just last year.  This past Tuesday, it was announced he was leaving to return to his native region to become superintendent in a school district near Youngstown.

At the time it became known he was a candidate for the post, Thomas told the Marietta Times he was interested in returning to northeast Ohio to be closer to his father.

I understand his concern.  My father, who lives near Cleveland, is doing all right now, but he will be 80 years old in January.

The problem is that when Thomas was hired last year, I'm sure people (including the Marietta Board of Education, which hired him) believed he was going to be around a lot longer than 12 months.

Marietta schools did get a levy approved, in May, just weeks before word went out that Thomas might be leaving.  Knowing people's opposition to school levies as I do, I will bet there are some who believed he was just hired to get a levy passed, even if this probably isn't true.

Thomas' departure means the board must once again look for a new leader.  Since it's late in the hiring season, it reportedly will have to hire an interim superintendent, probably from within the district for the upcoming school year.  Marietta schools has had, by my count, five superintendents in the past decade.  That isn't good for any school system.

I remember the superintendent Marietta had when I first came to the area in 1978.  His name was Lantz Hinson, who, like Thomas, was also from outside the area, and had already been at Marietta for several years. Hinson stayed until 1982, and then spent another ten years as Safety-Service Director for the City of Marietta.

I believe, like Hinson, Thomas should have given Marietta...the school system and the community...a chance to get to know him.

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