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School board hires Ravenna superintendent

By John Published: April 22, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

The Ravenna Board of Education has hired a new superintendent and selected finalists in its search for a new treasurer.

The board hired Dennis Honkala superintendent of Buckeye Local Schools in Medina County since 2007 on Monday to replace Tim Calfee, who is resigning this summer.

Honkala, who was given a three-year-contract effective Aug. 1, will be paid $115,000 annually. The district also will pay the employee portion of his pension.

Honkala will pay 10 percent of his health-care premium.

Calfee had the same benefits, but makes about $117,000 a year.

Ravenna enrolls about 3,000 students and employs 350, including 190 teachers, with an annual operating budget of about $29 million.

Calfee has been superintendent since 2001.

He already left the district once, sort of. He retired at age 57 on Aug. 1, 2008, a
Friday. The following Monday, he was rehired with a $2,273 raise, bringing his salary to $115,515.

This time, Calfee is leaving the district.

''I'm moving on to other employment,'' he said, though he hasn't decided what yet.

Treasurer Jerry Meyer has been with the district almost as long. He's retiring after working more than 40 years as a school treasurer, Calfee said.

''Jerry may be the most senior treasurer in the state of Ohio,'' Calfee said.

He said the district will miss Meyer's long years of experience and expertise in school finance.

''He asked for a four-year contract when he was 72,'' Calfee said. ''We wanted to give him another one, but he said he was ready to retire.''

Calfee and Meyer won't leave the district with much unfinished business other than dealing with the uncertainty of the state budget.

The union contracts are in place until the end of the next school year. Ravenna is not on the May 3 ballot, and Calfee said he doesn't expect the district will have to ask voters for more money in November.

A $3 million budget surplus this year should help cushion the blow from a $900,000 annual cut in state money under the proposed two-year state budget.

Included in that reduction is the $500,000 Ravenna would lose each year for four years because of the proposed reduction of state reimbursement for the loss of local business taxes.

The cut would have been even more severe for Ravenna, but the proposed budget caps the loss at 2 percent of overall revenue annually.

The district opened its new $28 million high school last August. Some residual work remains on that project.

Calfee said it's unusual for a superintendent and treasurer to work together for almost 10 years, and that relationship has contributed to Ravenna's stability.

That's why Honkala will have a hand in selecting the next treasurer.

''I'm out, he's in,'' Calfee said. ''He's the one who would have the input on a new treasurer position.''

The six finalists for treasurer are:

• Dawn Altman, treasurer, Windham schools.

• Philip D Butto IV, treasurer and CFO, Keystone schools.

• David Hoskin, treasurer, Newbury schools.

• Samantha Pochedly, treasurer and CFO, Newton Falls schools.

• Daniel Russomanno, payroll clerk, Ravenna schools.

• Kathryn Sines, treasurer, Cuyahoga Falls schools.

Interviews will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. The board hopes to select a treasurer by mid-May.

John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or Read the education blog at



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