By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer
The next superintendent of Cuyahoga Falls schools is coming from a smaller district, but his students are poorer and more likely to have disabilities than the students in the Falls.
Todd Nichols, who heads the Bucyrus City Schools in Crawford County, has been offered the top job, said Falls board President Therese Dunphy.
The school board will vote Monday on a tentative three-year contract to hire Nichols, who was one of two finalists for the Falls superintendent job. The other was Domenic Paolo, superintendent of Fairport Harbor Exempted Village School District in Lake County.
Contract details won't be known until the board votes Monday on the contract.
Nichols will replace Edwin Holland, who is
taking over the Cleveland suburban schools district of Cuyahoga Heights.
Nichols has been at Bucyrus since December of 2007 and also has experience as a principal and a math teacher.
Dunphy said Nichols' extensive use of student data and technology was one of the reasons he was chosen.
''He brings a very good mix of business and academic strengths to the district,'' Dunphy said.
Bucyrus serves about 1,700 students compared to the Falls, which enrolls about 5,000.
A reception will follow the 6:30 p.m. meeting, which will be held in the Falls High School library.
Although Bucyrus is a smaller district, it's also a poorer district.
About 63 percent of its students are considered economically disadvantaged and 23 percent have disabilities. In the Falls, those figures are 37 percent and 16 percent respectively, according to the most recent state report card.
Last year, Bucyrus was rated in ''continuous improvement.'' The Falls was rated ''excellent.''
''His whole philosophy on education is what really drew us in: You meet every child where they are and move them along,'' said Falls board member Barbara Gunter. ''Some of the things he's doing in Bucyrus just wowed us all.''
She was especially impressed with how Nichols has incorporated technology, including a video blog, to build relationships with the community.
Gunter hopes he can do that for the Falls, too.
''For this school district and this community, I think he's the missing link,'' Gunter said. ''I think he can really bring the two together. We have so much apathy here, where people don't want to get involved and I think he's going to be able to change that. He's going to be out in the community, he's going to be out in the buildings. He's going to know everybody. That's his game plan.''
Nichols won't have to seek new money from the taxpayers right away.
Voters passed a replacement levy in the May primary that restored millage that had been reduced because of rising property values.
The new levy will collect an additional $4 million a year.
Most of the district's unions have signed two-year agreements this year, so Nichols won't have to wade into labor negotiations immediately either.
Nichols attended Bowling Green State University, where he received a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and a doctorate in leadership studies.
He also has a master's degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of Toledo.