Poland schools appoint new head of athletics, over some objections

By Denise Dick

POLAND — The school district has a new athletic administrator, even if not everyone is happy about it.

School board members voted 4-1 earlier this week to appoint Brian Banfield, assistant principal at the high school, as assistant principal-athletic administrator — despite support from about 20 residents for the other candidate, Stephen Rohan.

Rohan is a guidance counselor and former baseball and assistant basketball coach.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Zorn said the decision was about qualifications.

Banfield said that his goal is to keep the rich tradition of Poland athletics going for years to come. He said he also wants to showcase the schools’ athletic facilities, including the fieldhouse and stadium under construction, by having Ohio High School Athletic Association tournaments.

Rohan couldn’t be reached.

Myron Stallsmith, athletic director for about 40 years, is in the last year of a two-year stint as a retire/rehire, paid about $36,000 per year this year and last. Before his retire/rehire, though, he earned about $70,000 annually. He’ll be done at year’s end.

The district posted the job within the district, and Rohan and Banfield applied.

“We had two inside candidates who were well qualified, and we felt that loyalty goes both ways,” Zorn said. “Why post it outside if we have qualified candidates inside?”

In negotiations with its unions in 2000, the school board and the union agreed that when Stallsmith retired, the athletic director post would become a nonunion, administrative position.

The title changed to assistant principal-athletic administrator and gives Banfield the authority to discipline students as well as conduct reviews of coaches. His salary is roughly $72,300 and is unchanged.

Before the decision was made, Zorn appointed a five-member search committee to make a recommendation to him and the school board of who should fill the job.

The members were Vincent Procopio, high school principal; Mark Covell, middle school principal; Dennis Reardon, president of the all-sports boosters club; football coach Mark Brungard; and Dr. Stephen Begezda, PTA president.

Committee members interviewed the candidates but didn’t reach consensus.

“The search committee came to a gridlock, a tie,” Zorn said.

Two members wanted one candidate, two wanted the other and a fifth abstained, he said.

Reardon said the committee decided to send both candidates back to the superintendent and school board without a recommendation. He declined to discuss the issue further.

Zorn said he then asked Procopio, who would be working closely with the selected candidate, for his recommendation. Procopio recommended Banfield.

Zorn then reviewed both candidates’ r sum s and qualifications as well.

Banfield, who has been with the district two years as an assistant principal, formerly worked in Stow as an assistant athletic director. Rohan, who has been with the district for about 15 years, doesn’t have administrative experience or athletic administrative experience, the superintendent said.

“They’re both fine young men,” Zorn said.

The job description calls for a current state secondary school principal’s certificate, a master’s degree in administration, successful high school teaching experience and coaching experience and demonstrated management, human relations and instructional leadership skills among the qualifications.

Banfield has a one-year alternative principal administrative license. Rohan has a two-year provisional principal license.

Zorn consulted the Mahoning County Educational Service Center, the entity responsible for valid Ohio licensing, to determine if both candidates met the licensing requirement.

“The alternative principal license is equivalent to both the two-year provisional and five-year professional license,” an e-mail from the center to Zorn said.

Banfield has a valid principal credential now, and there is no reason to believe he won’t have one next year, the e-mail said.

As far as master’s degrees, Banfield has one in administration while Rohan’s are in guidance and curriculum, but he took additional course work in administration subsequent to earning the master’s.

Zorn recommended Banfield to the school board. Board members then reviewed all of the information about both candidates before deciding at a previous board meeting to appoint Banfield and formally made the appointment this week

About 20 residents at this week’s meeting voiced their support of Rohan, talking about the positive impact he has had on their children, the superintendent said.

Banfield’s salary and his benefits will remain the same in the new position. A new assistant principal, who will earn about the same amount, also must be hired to fill Banfield’s position.

“There will still be three positions: principal, assistant principal and assistant principal- athletic administrator like there are three positions now: principal, assistant principal and athletic director,” Zorn said.


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