County superintendent Bennett serving in interim role at Northwestern

Former Greenon leader steps in to help Northwestern after its superintendent and board reached settlement.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Northwestern Local Schools selected Clark County Educational Service Center Superintendent Dan Bennett to lead the district on an interim basis, starting last Friday.

Bennett said the ESC board will officially vote on this appointment today, and he will serve as interim superintendent until either another interim is selected or a permanent replacement is found. He said the details are still being worked out.

Bennett said it is common for Clark County school districts to reach out to the ESC for help in times like this.

“We can provide a lot of different services, so it’s not out of the ordinary for a district to call and ask for interim services in the short term until they get a final plan,” Bennett said.

He replaces former Superintendent Jesse Steiner, who left his job effective Dec. 1 with more than 2 1/2 years remaining on his contract. He now serves as a consultant to the superintendent until Dec. 31 2024, and is being paid his full salary and benefits without having to work in person or daily.

Bennett has been the ESC’s superintendent for nine years, and he served about five years at Greenon Local School District and about eight at Little Miami Local School District in Warren County.

Under the transition agreement, Steiner will resign effective Dec. 31, 2024, in exchange for the board to employ him as consultant to the superintendent from Dec. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2024, with the same compensation and benefits under the terms of his contract as superintendent.

According to Steiner’s most recent contract, which was signed in June 2022, his annual base salary is $145,000. The board pays full retirement and the employee portion of Medicare tax, as well as any medical reports related to examinations, any professional meetings, reimbursement for any travel and other expenses related to official duties, and all membership dues in professional or civic organizations.

For his new role as a consultant, Steiner must generally be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, by phone and email, to respond in a “reasonable time to reasonable employment-related requests” from any interim superintendent, the next superintendent, and/or the treasurer.

Steiner will perform services “in line with his skills, education and experiences as superintendent/school administrator.” He will work full-time, as needed, and “give his full effort and cooperation.”

The district and Steiner parted ways amicably, according to a board statement, but no explanation has been given as to what triggered the departure and the settlement agreement. The agreement itself said the deal was reached “in order to avoid the time, expense, distraction and acrimony of protracted litigation.”

Jenna Ashbaugh, Northwestern Local Schools treasurer, said in an email the district is working with the ESC on an agreement with Bennett.

Bennett said he is in his 41st year in education, and his goal is to support the district as much as he can.

“Right now just to be supportive of a great district with great kids, great teachers and solid administrators,” Bennett said.

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