Howard worked in the New Boston school district for 33 years, serving as its superintendent for 23 of those years. He retired several years ago, and was replaced by Jerry Skiver, who also retired and was himself replaced by Mike Staggs late last school year.
Howard said during his time at New Boston, he saw to it that his buildings were the first to be networked and wired - a move that would play strongly in the 21st century learning environment. He knew when he retired from New Boston, he wanted to continue working part-time, and went on to serve in an interim superintendent role for several districts.
In August, he began his new role as superintendent's position at SCOESC, replacing another former New Boston administrator, Darren Jenkins, who previously served as New Boston High School principal during Howard's term as superintendent.
“The job that I have now is one that I feel I've always wanted,” Howard said.
As he still settles in behind his new desk, he said there remains some confusion in the public about what, exactly, SCOESC does.
“Most people do not understand this office. It used to be known as the county superintendent's office, but the state has went through a total restructuring and consolidation of several of the counties together,” he said.
The SCOESC, he said, actually serves the 10 districts in Scioto County, as well as Manchester Local in Adams County, and Oak Hill Local in Jackson County. In addition, the office has also recently taken on the what was once known as the Pilasco-Ross Special Educational Regional Center. The role of this office is to address the services of special needs students in Scioto, Ross, Lawrence and Pike counties. Some of those services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology and vision and hearing impairments.
“The office has become more of a regional office, providing many services out there to schools. The reason this office does that is because one independent school cannot provide the services; not one school has enough students in need of these special services, so as a result of that it's much more cost effective for them to go together,” Howard said.
Howard said he feels that his school board, which is made up of seven elected board members from Scioto, Jackson and Adams counties, has directed him to create a cooperating team of school districts to achieve what's best for the children.
He said the greatest difference between being superintendent of a school district and superintendent at SCOESC is that his current job is more about coordination; bringing all of the local districts together to achieve a singular goal. He said once a plan has been set, it's still up to the individual superintendents to implement them in their own districts.
“Your local schools are very independent of this office. As far as making decisions in their schools - whether it be sports, teacher placements or anything of that nature - that is local, totally. We are more of a coordinating agency to provide services,” Howard said.
Some departments, however, such as special education, are provided by SCOESC because the individual district needs are not large enough on their own to support an independent program.
Coming out of semi-retirement, Howard said his family has had mixed reaction but have been mostly supportive of his decisions.
“It's just something I've always dreamed of doing - working and pulling together numerous school districts,” he said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, and by e-mail at email@example.com.