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Roeder takes over as new NH chief

January 13, 2010
John G. Roeder was unanimously approved as the next superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees during a special meeting last Tuesday.

"He will be a strong leader for our school," Gary Byrne, president of the school board, said, adding that Roeder is qualified on everything from "finances to student achievement."

Roeder, 55, retired July 1 after serving nine years as superintendent of the Sunman-Dearborn Community School Corp., which has about twice as many students K through 12 as North Harrison's 2,500 or so students. He began his career as a sixth-grade teacher in Northern Wells Community Schools in the Fort Wayne area then taught science in the middle school at Rising Sun-Ohio County School Corp. Next, he served eight years as an elementary school principal and three years as assistant superintendent before taking the top position.

"This board has been looking for a strong leader who has success for over a year now," Byrne said. "I think who we've selected was well worth the wait."

Roeder will succeed Randy Barrett, who has been the interim superintendent since the end of February. North Harrison has operated with an interim superintendent since Dr. Phil Partenheimer resigned June 30, 2008, to take the executive director position with the Wilson Education Service Center's Region 2 office in Charlestown.

"I ask the community and staff to support and stand behind" Roeder, school trustee Fred Naegele said.

School trustee Bobby Chinn said he had met Roeder at some Indiana School Board Association functions and was impressed with him. So, when Roeder applied for the position at North Harrison, Chinn said he told the other board members they needed "to act on this guy or we're going to let him get away."

Roeder has already moved into the community and is looking forward to heading up a "smaller" school system.

"Retiring at 55, I knew I would do something else," he said, adding that he has been involved in education his entire adult life.

So, he began looking for openings. He said he didn't desire going to an urban setting.

"In a conservative area, parents are more involved; you have more parent support," Roeder said.

He said a smaller school corporation will allow him to work on educational outcomes and to have more interaction with students.

"Kids should know their superintendent," he said, adding that he intends to attend various extracurricular activities. "Even if there's no direct contact with (the students), they know you're there."

Byrne said Roeder's contract salary is $105,000 plus benefits. Barrett will stay on for a brief period, Byrne said, to assist Roeder as needed.

Dan Haskell, president of the North Harrison Classroom Teachers Association, said that he's "not opposed" to the new superintendent; rather, he's displeased with the board's hiring process.

"The only issue I have is this hasn't been a transparent experience," he said the day the board hired Roeder. "They've not been forthcoming with the public."

Haskell said Roeder was introduced to the faculty Monday, Jan. 4, during a meeting.

"I'm looking forward to having a positive relationship with him," Haskell said.

One question some taxpayers in the school corporation have is whether Roeder will be able to help the school board and teachers settle the contract dispute that has been going on for about 6-1/2 years. While at Sunman-Dearborn, Roeder faced a similar dispute that lasted more than two years.

Roeder and his wife, Janice, who is a pediatrician, have three grown children: Amanda and her husband are pharmacists and have two sons, ages 2 and 6 months; Samuel is employed by Kroger Co.; and Kimberly is a junior at Indiana University, where she is majoring in journalism and pre-law.

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