Thursday, May 17, 2001

New boss faces issue

Facilities priority for schools' chief

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Preparing a facilities plan for the Talawanda Schools with help from the community will be the top priority for Assistant Superintendent Phil Cagwin when he takes the top position Aug. 1.

        Mr. Cagwin, 48, was named superintendent Monday. He was given a three-year contract by the school board and will earn $88,000 a year. “It's the right time for me, personally and professionally,” said Mr. Cagwin, a 21-year veteran of the district. “I'm excited about this new challenge. It's a natural extension for me to now step up and serve the district in this capacity.”

        During his tenure, Mr. Cagwin has worked in every school except Talawanda High. He was an assistant principal at Kramer Elementary and served as the district's special-education director. He also has been principal at Maud Marshall Elementary, Stewart Elementary and the middle school. He has been assistant superintendent for the past four years.

        His familiarity with the schools and community,his work as assistant superintendent and his communication skills impressed board members. No other applicant for the position was sought, said William Vollmer, school board president.

        “He knows the district. He knows kids. There will be no break-in period,” Mr. Vollmer said.

        Perhaps Mr. Cagwin's most difficult task will be putting together a plan to improve the district's facilities and then bringing together people from all parts of the district to support it, Mr. Vollmer said. In the past two years two voters rejected ballot issues that would have paid for improvements, including the closing of Stewart.

        “I think he's a good communicator because he listens well. It's always been my dream somebody, somehow would pull together this very diversified, very split district,” Mr. Vollmer said. “We have to do something about Stewart.”

        Later this month the district will receive recommendations about school improvements from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. They will be discussed publicly in June. Mr. Cagwin said he wants community comment as well.

        “We know we have to address the issue, probably with a bond issue. I welcome the voices of everyone in the community,” Mr. Cagwin said.

        Mr. Cagwin replaces Susan Cobb, superintendent since March 1998. Ms. Cobb submitted her letter of resignation in February, six months after the board decided not to extend her contract, which expires July 31.


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