Brookfield school Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor was hired Monday, March 11, as superintendent of Lakeview schools, Lakeview schools posted on social media.
Taylor said she will stay at Brookfield through July 31, when her contract ends.
“Yes, we’re very sad,” said Brookfield Board of Education President Ronda Bonekovic. “I was hoping that they wouldn’t want her.”
Bonekovic added that she understands Taylor wanting to try something different.
“She’s a great educational leader,” Bonekovic said. “We’re glad we’ve had her for as long as we have.”
Taylor’s three years as Brookfield superintendent followed five years in high school and middle school administration and 16 years as a teacher.
Taylor said she was not looking to leave Brookfield and did not apply for Lakeview’s job when she first heard about it, but people within Lakeview encouraged her to try, she said.
“We clicked as a group with the board,” said Taylor, whose husband, Tim, is Brookfield’s athletic director.
Taylor said she has reached a point in her career where she is ready for a new challenge, and Brookfield could use an infusion of new ideas.
“After a few years, I need to move out of my comfort zone or I get a little lackadaisical or less motivated than I should be,” she said.
She believes Brookfield has made great progress by getting out of fiscal emergency and she has put together an “incredible leadership team,” but she feels she’s reached a roadblock on getting some other things done.
The trouncing of the permanent improvement levy referendum in November – “I don’t know if you can get a whole lot worse,” she said of the 57 percent of no votes – does not eliminate the need to generate more money, Taylor said. Although the school building is only eight years old, it still needs to be maintained, and maintenance costs have gone up, she said.
“You have to take care of the things that you have in order for them to last a long, long time,” she said.
Apart from that, the school needs safety and classroom technology upgrades, and the district has an old bus garage and a football stadium with safety issues.
It’s a good time to have someone with new ideas to address those needs, she said.
“I feel the differences I can make I have made,” Taylor said.
Bonekovic said Taylor has been easy to work with, enthusiastic, caring, has a good relationship with the staff and is willing to do whatever needs done, even if it meant mopping up after the recent school flooding from broken water pipes.
Taylor said she will miss the relationships she has created over her 24 years in Brookfield, with the staff and her students.
“I will miss the opportunity to work with people I have looked on as good friends,” she said.
But, those she leaves behind are in a good position to carry on her goals of quality education and financial discipline.
“I wouldn’t go otherwise,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she expects to have little, if any, involvement in the process of replacing her.
“This is a diamond in the rough,” she said of Brookfield schools. “It is on the verge of being a notable presence in Trumbull County.”
She said the district-wide professional development program she instituted allows teachers to work on better ways to teach, while freeing up the teachers’ planning periods to do other things.
“I don’t know a single district that has done that,” she said.
Bonekovic said she plans to meet with Treasurer Craig Yaniglos Wednesday to talk about a time frame for posting the position and, ultimately, hiring a replacement. She said she also wants to contact the Ohio School Boards Association for input.
While Bonekovic tried to get a board meeting arranged last weekend, that was not possible because not all members were available, she said. The board meets next at its regular monthly meeting March 20 and will go into executive session to go over the options for a timeline and talk about qualifications for a superintendent, she said.
Taylor said she is willing to help the new superintendent get acclimated, even after she has started working at Lakeview.