New superintendent selected in South-Western City Schools District

 By Dedra Cordle

Staff Writer

 

Randy Banks

The South-Western City Schools Board of Education has chosen a new superintendent.

At a special meeting held on June 8, the board unanimously agreed to hire Randy Banks to lead the district. He has been serving as the assistant superintendent of Worthington City Schools since 2015.

Under the terms of the four-year contract that was approved at the meeting, Banks will start his new role at the district on Aug. 1, 2024. He will receive an annual salary of $265,000 with the possibility of a 5 percent increase each year of his contract pending an excellent score on his annual evaluation.

The board also approved a consulting agreement with Banks which will allow him to interact in the district. He will be paid a daily consulting rate of $1,019 between now and Aug. 1.

In late May, the board announced that Banks and district Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jamie Lusher were the two finalists for the superintendent position. Board president Chris Boso called the choice between the two candidates one of the “toughest” choices the board has had to make thus far.

“You cannot say anything bad about either one of those candidates,” said Boso. “They are outstanding individuals and dedicated educators and it was just such a tough choice for us to have to make.”

Ultimately, Boso said Banks was selected to serve as the superintendent for his “innovative outlook, human resource expertise, and a vision” for the district that resonated with the board.

Lusher plans to continue to serve as the deputy superintendent of the district. Boso said he looks forward to seeing Banks and Lusher work collaboratively. The two previously worked together at Worthington City Schools.

“They will be a dynamic duo and they will really push the district forward to be the best it can be,” Boso said.

A native of northeastern Ohio, Banks said he wanted to work in the field of education because of the positive impact teachers and administrators can have on their students and the community as a whole.

“Growing up in a small area (Ashtabula County), I saw the impact a school administrator could have in the community and that was something that drew me to the profession,” he said.

After graduating from Jefferson Area High School in 1990, he attended Mount Vernon Nazarene University where he majored in education. During his sophomore year, he and his girlfriend, Michelle (who would later become his wife) traveled to  Wichita, Kansas under a federal grant to serve as tutors to inner-city students. There, they coordinated recreational activities and assisted in a gang prevention program.

“It was just a fantastic cultural experience and enriching to be able to work with students that closely and with a diverse staff,” he said. “It was something very different from what we had ever experienced before.”

He said his involvement in that program made him more determined to become an educator and make a difference in children’s lives.

After receiving his bachelor of arts in education in 1994, he began his teaching career at Gahanna-Jefferson Schools where he taught eighth grade social students and sixth grade math and science. He also coached the boys basketball team at Gahanna Middle School West, Gahanna Middle School South and track at Gahanna Middle School South.

A year after receiving his master of educational administration from Ohio State University, he joined South-Western City Schools as the assistant principal at Norton Middle School in 1998. He served in that role for two years until he was named the principal at Brookpark Middle School (currently Beulah Park Middle School).

Four years later, Banks was named as the personnel director of certified staff. He served in that role until 2006 when he was placed as the principal of Finland Middle School after a failed levy. He was the principal of the middle school for six months and then transferred back to his position of personnel director of certified staff until 2011.

For the past 13 years, Banks has been an employee at Worthington City Schools, serving as the human resource director and then the assistant superintendent. He said he looks forward to coming back to South-Western City Schools.

“I am very excited to be back,” said Banks. “I have always loved the people here. There has always been a group of committed employees here that have always worked really hard to meet the students’ needs and I think oftentimes their efforts go unnoticed. I was drawn to come back and work with that level of commitment.”

He said his initial goals as the new superintendent is to “get out there and connect with people.”

“There are a lot of new faces since I’ve left and I want to learn and understand how the district works and really connect to the people who are out there doing the work.”

He added that he wants to be a superintendent who is “present and available” to all of the students, staff and members of the community.

“It’s important that all of our small communities within this large district feel included in the entire purpose and mission of the school district,” said Banks. “That is one of my goals – to be out there in all corners of the district and make sure they all feel seen and heard and that our staff and students there feel valued.”

The search for a new leader of the district was prompted in March when long-time superintendent Dr. Bill Wise announced he would be retiring prior to the start of the 2024-25 school year. Wise will remain with the district as the special assistant to the new superintendent to assist with the transition process until Aug. 31, 2025. He was the superintendent of the fifth largest school district in the state for 17 years.

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