ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula Area City School District Board of Education unanimously approved a contract extension for Superintendent Mark Potts that will take his employment to July 31, 2025.
The four-year contract extension was unanimously approved after an executive session at Wednesday night’s regular board meeting.
Potts’ base salary of $110,000 remains the same during the length of this contract, but he will have some extra benefits. The board also unanimously approved a plan to amend the pick-up plan for State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio for this position.
Board President Debra Barrickman said the board has complete confidence in Potts, proven by putting systems in place, implementing strong teams and providing support to staff so positive changes can happen.
“He has the qualities that are necessary to run a successful school district during this very challenging time,” she said. “He is active in what is going on both inside our classrooms and outside our buildings. His work ethic is tremendous. We are grateful for his ability to provide outstanding educational experiences for our students.”
Potts said Thursday that he’s honored the board showed confidence in him.
“There are plenty of frustrations with the whole COVID deal, but I am blessed to continue to do this work in my hometown where it is so personal and matters most to me,” he said. “I am especially blessed to be a part of a great team that I look forward to continuing working with. We have accomplished some, but we have a lot more work to do and I am looking forward to getting it done.”
Potts’ career as superintendent started with a three-year contract in June 2018, after he served six months as interim superintendent.
Dozens of teachers, administrators and staff attended that meeting in support of Potts, loudly applauding after the vote. It was a busy time for Potts, who received his PhD and got married all within the month of June.
As interim superintended Potts initiated the sale of the Thomas Jefferson building and moved the preschool and board offices to the Lakeside High campus, realigned the elementary campus and used research-based data to establish new start times for each building.
As superintendent, the COVID-19 pandemic has been Potts’ biggest challenge, but he led the district by introducing a new concept — starting the school year with a live electronic classroom where students can see and interact with teachers and classmates. It’s a teaching method being used by no other district in Ashtabula County.
Class time mirrors in-person school as students follow a schedule. Attendance and grades count. All students in grades 1-12 have a Chromebook and the district is providing students with free, site-based lunches again.
With the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the challenges of implementing all of the state’s safety recommendations, school officials decided to start the year remotely and then re-evaluate the situation after one month.
As of Thursday, students in pre-K to 4th grade attend in-person classes in two groups on different days of the week. The district is shooting to bring all students back to in-person learning on Nov. 4, school officials said.
Potts also provided lunches to students during spring break, as well as when all students were sent home last March because of the pandemic.
An Ashtabula native, Potts attended AACS from kindergarten until his high school graduation from Ashtabula High School.
He taught for seven years in Winchester, Virginia before returning to Ohio and has served as an administrator in the Madison and Riverside districts.
Potts then returned to his home district where he served as Lakeside Junior High Principal from 2015 to 2017 before taking a position as secondary curriculum and school improvement coordinator for the 2017-18 school year.