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Q&A: New Superintendent, Kathryn Powers, Starts Today

The Twinsburg resident talks about money, decision-making and Journey

Kathryn Powers takes over as superintendent of Twinsburg City Schools today. She replaces Steve Marlow, who begins his new job today as well, as superintendent at Independence Local Schools.

Powers has worked in education since 1984, starting as a classroom teacher before working as principal at various schools and, most recently, as director of human resources in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District.

On Friday, Patch spoke to Powers, a Twinsburg resident since 1997, about her new job and a little about herself. Here's what she had to say:

First of all, congratulations on the new job. What's your impression of the school district so far? I am very pleased to be in this position. First and foremost the students are highly successful academically. It is obvious that the community supports our school district, and that's really critical for the success of any district.

You officially start your job today, but how have you prepared to take the reins? Steve Marlow has been very helpful in the transition between his leadership and mine. We have met many times, as well as with members of the central office staff. A school business is a pretty complex thing. The last six or seven weeks I've been learning about all the supports that make sure our schools are ready for children come August 17.

You have said a plan is needed to deal with the district's financial realities. What is the most pressing financial issue confronting Twinsburg's schools? It's all about the tangible personal property tax and the fact that over the next two years we will be receiving less money through the TPPT. The thing to remember is 25 percent of our budget has been based on that money.

How will you create a plan to deal with that? We are currently developing a time line with the administration and the board of education on ways to research ways to reduce cost and reduce the impact on our budget. We are in the draft stages of the plan.

Are you sure you haven't started your job early? Truth be told, I've been here every day this week. I have vacation time from Brecksville-Broadview Heights, but I've been using vacation time there to work here. It's like I'm a jet and couldn't get my wheels down in either airport.

It seems tough decisions may lie ahead. How will you make good decisions as superintendent? I'm collaborative by nature. I honestly believe you cannot make decisions in a silo, unilaterally. My style is I research and gather feedback. And once you have facts and research, you can make the best decision for the people I work for.

Where did you go to college? I often say I put up Rhodes Tower with my tuition. All of my education in college has been at Cleveland State University, undergrad and graduate school.

What was your very first job? I worked as a cashier at the old Turney Pharmacy in Garfield Heights.

Are there any national issues regarding K-12 education that strike you as particularly important? Unfortunately, every conversation you hear is having to do with the budget and being able to have enough financial resources to help every child succeed. Every child comes to a district, not just in Ohio but across the country, in a different place academically and developmentally, and it's the schools' responsibility to prepare our children to be successful as adults. 

What's it like landing a job in your own city? You know what, that's one of the benefits – being a resident and understanding where your neighbors are coming from. Being a part of the community on a day-to-day basis, you're so much more accessible than if you're commuting one-half hour each way, and that's important for this office.

Let's get to know you, the person, a little better. What's your family like? My husband is Paul. He is athletic director for Aurora Schools. We don't have children. We have two very spoiled golden retrievers. The biggest little competition between my husband and I is the opening football game is between Aurora and Twinsburg. He's already told me we won't have reserved parking for you.

And finally, the most revealing of my questions: Who's your favorite musician? My favorite musical group is Journey. That was the first date my husband and I went on, so I guess that means more than just a musical group.

QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for our new superintendent? Tell us in the comments.

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