The North Canton Board of Education has announced that Michael Hartenstein will be the district’s next school superintendent, succeeding Michael Gallina, who will retire June 30.

Hartenstein, the chief operating officer of Parma City Schools, received a three-year contract effective Aug. 1 and continuing through July 31, 2015.

Gallina has accepted a position with AultCare, a subsidiary of the Aultman Health Foundation. “Almost two months ago I became aware of the North Canton position,” Hartenstein said. “I researched the school district and became more and more interested. By the end of the first interview, I was extremely excited. I am proud to be your next superintendent and can’t wait to get started.”

Hartenstein will receive a total salary of $149,295 including retirement pick up and other benefits, according to Larry Morgan of the Stark County Education Service Center. As in the past, the School Board requested that the Education Service Center lead the search for a new superintendent.

“We were very impressed with his talent and the skills he will bring to our community,” board President Nancy Marion said of Hartenstein. We are confident he will take us into the future and maintain the excellence we expect. He will refresh North Canton schools,” she said.

Hartenstein was among six candidates chosen for interviews out of 20 applicants. The field was narrowed for a second interview to Hartenstein, Daryl Kubilus Jr., the superintendent of Cloverleaf Local Schools and Geoffrey Palmer, the superintendent of Hopewell-Loudon School District.

For the first time, the board invited several members of the community to participate in the third interview. Board members were very pleased with the interaction, Marion said. “We will miss Mike Gallina terribly, but we have found a superintendent who can do an awesom job for us,” said board member Betty Fulton.

Board member Jennifer Kling expressed similar thoughts. “We are happy for Mike as he starts a new
chapter in his life and also excited about our new superintendent whose business acumen and technology background promise to move the district ahead.”

Hartenstein has a background in the private sector as well as public education. Prior to joining Parma schools, he worked for the Ohio Department of Education, IBM and Butler County schools in southwestern Ohio. He has been a classroom teacher and holds a teaching license, Marion said.

“It was the kids who brought me back to education,” Hartenstein said. “I hadabsolutely no intention of working full time in Parma. I was a partner in a firm that did business with the school district. Being with the kids, seeing them get excited about learning and progress, I was following my heart.”

Hartenstein supports the new Unified Elementary Plan, indicating to the board that it provides an opportunity for collaboration within buildings and more efficient use of professional development. Hartenstein said his first actions will be to hold open-door sessions, walk through buildings during the day and be visible at sporting and community events.

“He resonated with me,” said longtime school board member Chris Goldthorpe. “His philosophy is that we have students for only a limited period of time. We owe it to them to give our very best every
single day.”

Hartenstein was frank when assessing the current state of public education. He cited greater and greater demands in education and less and less state funding. The goal, he said, is to not only preserve quality, but to try to make it better.

“If it was simple, it wouldn’t be fun,” he said with a quick smile. Hartenstein and his wife of 36 years, Meg, plan to relocate as soon as possible. They have not decided exactly where that location might be. She holds a doctoral degree in math and teaches in Parma. They have adult children who live out of state.