Dottie McGrew

NORTH CANTON: The Board of Education on Tuesday announced that Michael Hartenstein will succeed Michael Gallina as superintendent of schools.

Hartenstein, the chief operating officer of Parma City Schools, received a three-year contract effective Aug. 1 and continuing through July 31, 2015.

Gallina, 52, will retire June 30. He has accepted a position with AultCare, the insurance arm of the Stark County-based Aultman Health Foundation.

“Almost two months ago I became aware of the North Canton position,” Hartenstein said. “I researched the school district and became more and more interested. By the end of the first interview, I was extremely excited. I am proud to be your next superintendent and can’t wait to get started.”

North Canton officials declined to provide details of Hartenstein’s contract. They deferred questions to Larry Morgan, superintendent of the Stark County Educational Service Center, who could not be reached for comment.

“We were very impressed with his talent and the skills he will bring to our community,” board President Nancy Marion said of Hartenstein. “We are confident he will take us into the future and maintain the excellence we expect. He will refresh North Canton schools.”

Hartenstein has a background in the private sector as well as public education. Prior to joining Parma schools, he worked for the Ohio Department of Education, IBM and Butler County schools in southwestern Ohio. He has been a classroom teacher and holds a teaching license, Marion said.

“It was the kids who brought me back to education,” Hartenstein said. “I had absolutely no intention of working full time in Parma. I was a partner in a firm that did business with the school district. Being with the kids, seeing them get excited about learning and progress, I followed my heart.”

Hartenstein said his first actions will be to hold open-door sessions, walk through buildings during the day and be visible at sporting and community events.

“He resonated with me,” said longtime school board member Chris Goldthorpe. “His philosophy is that we have students for only a limited period of time. We owe it to them to give our very best every single day.”

Hartenstein was frank when assessing the current state of public education. He cited greater and greater demands in education and less and less state funding. The goal, he said, is to not only preserve quality, but to try to make it better.

“If it was simple, it wouldn’t be fun,” he said with a quick smile.

Hartenstein and his wife of 36 years, Meg, plan to relocate as soon as possible. She holds a doctoral degree in math and teaches in Parma. They have adult children who live out of state.

Dottie McGrew can be reached at dottiemcgrew@neo.rr.com.