Perkins Township residents are prepared to welcome new superintendent James Gunner with open arms.
“We’ve seen the positive changes a great superintendent and board can make,” resident Abigail Miller said. “I’ve come to trust the board we have and know if they feel this Gunner man is the best for the job, then I will accept him wholeheartedly.”
Gunner, superintendent of Bryan City Schools for the past six years, was introduced to the public at Wednesday’s board meeting with the approval of his three-year, $104,500 contract that begins Aug. 1.
Interim superintendent Denny Rectenwald referred to his successor as the “top” administrator of his district, bringing the district to “top notch” excellence.
“He was able to take a school district from continuous improvement to excellent in the course of his time there,” board vice president Steve Schuster said. “That in itself is amazing.”
Board president Brian Printy said the board didn’t want to settle for just anyone, so they did their “homework” and it became apparent early on that Gunner should take the reins.
“We are certain Mr. Gunner will bring exactly what we need to our community,” he said.
During Gunner’s tenure at Bryan, voters approved a 6.8-mill levy in May 2002, a renewal in May 2007 and a 1 percent income tax in May 2006.
“Passing a levy is hard work,” resident Sharon Leffler said. “I’ve seen the way other school districts struggle to get even a small amount of funding for their districts. Knowing Gunner has been so successful with keeping his former district afloat is reassuring Perkins schools will continue to thrive.”
“It has been a long process in terms of my searching for new opportunities for myself and my family,” Gunner said. “I immediately felt a comfort level with all of you, and I knew the challenges the district faces would fit naturally with my strengths. I can’t wait to get here.”
During several focus groups hosted by the Ohio School Boards Association prior to selecting superintendent candidates, many residents said having a superintendent who lives in the area was important.
“We need someone who knows what’s going on in the district,” Bea VanMeter, a retired art teacher, said. “To know Perkins you have to live Perkins.”
Gunner said he will start the relocation process with plans to move his wife, Carol, and children, Matthew and Emily, into the district.
“I’m thrilled Mr. Gunner is going to become one with Perkins,” resident Tim Smith said. “We hear about PerkinsUnited, and are told how important it is for the community to be put back together. Having a superintendent close shows how determined Gunner is to fit into the district and truly understand the uniqueness we have here in Perkins.”