Loveland Schools Interim Superintendent
hopes he left things better
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (July 26, 2021) – Brad Neavin came to serve the Loveland City School District (LCSD) as Interim Superintendent in January 2021. His contract has expired; he is transitioning in new Superintendent Michael Broadwater, and returning to retirement.
In other words, Brad Neavin has left the building. Before he left the building, he took time to talk to this reporter about his time serving the Tiger Nation of LCSD. Let there be no mistake, he shared fond memories of a time, albeit brief, a time he felt was very well spent. He’d done his homework, and all the things that made him want to come to LCSD, played out “beyond” his expectations. It told him Loveland is a good community. As we sat talking alongside the “bike trail”, he called it “Norman Rockwell’s version of Middle America” absorbing the beautiful scenery.
“What I hoped for is when I left, I’d still feel as good about the community as I did when I came in,” said Neavin. “I feel even better about it. It was hard for me to not apply for the full-time position.”
Neavin came in having never served as an “Interim” Superintendent. He knew how to be a superintendent and approached the unfamiliar interim territory with the intention of getting as much done as he possibly could as superintendent. Did that approach serve him well with the School Board and the Loveland community?
“I think so. I found my way,” Neavin explained, describing himself as direct and honest in his past role as a school superintendent. “I could be even more direct and honest with the board here. Not in a negative way. I felt like I was able to get out into the community even more. The whole focus has been on the community for me though.”
Gauging the community is exactly the experience he had in his previous roles as superintendent and consultant. Neavin came to Loveland Schools, in the wake of the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse and being told the district faced a “financial” situation. Looking back today, Neavin says he found a different situation needing immediate attention.
“We had really good conversations about what I was hearing out in the community,” said Neavin. “I told the board, as frank, honest and respectful as I could be, because I do respect them: ‘You need to up your game really in listening to the community because we have really, really smart people here.”
Neavin went as far as to call Loveland “the smartest community I’ve worked in”. He backed that up with the data showing the socio-economic scale, where the schools rank and professionalism of the people in the community supporting his comment. Listening to the community, he says is an important message for the board. He believes they heard it. They also heard him acknowledge there is a financial situation and different crisis situation.
“I said you have a financial situation, but you clearly have a communications crisis, and a relationship crisis,” Neavin said. “I think we started to build a bridge a little bit. I think people feel like they are being heard a little bit more.”
That said, Neavin also acknowledged LCSD continues to face some criticism on various social media platforms in the community.
“My advice to the board and the community is folks you have to talk with each other,” he said. “Quit screaming at each other.”
Neavin compared social media to graffiti, but admitted social media also does some good. His message is clear, social media certainly has a place, but personal engagement with the community is important. He states it for the communications plan moving forward for the schools.
“You inform on social media, but engage in dialogue face-to-face wherever you possibly can,” explained Neavin. “To me, that’s what the human experience is about. It’s about actually sitting down and having conversations.”
Face-to-face conversations with the Loveland community is exactly where Brad Neavin began his superintendent journey for Loveland Schools. Those type conversations are exactly how he responded to being blasted with critical emails or on social media. He reached out to the critics personally, at least by phone, and addressed their concerns one-to-one.
“I’ve had so many great conversations,” Neavin said. “By and large, people were absolutely willing to talk. On one hand, I was surprised at how divided things were, but I was so encouraged by how willing people were to talk through the issues.”
Brad Neavin wanted to clear the table for Mike Broadwater as the incoming LCSD Superintendent, but he knows issues remain for the administration, staff and community. He expressed confidence the financial situation is better than it was; while acknowledging public school funding and the partnership with the community stakeholders has still not been fully resolved in the latest State of Ohio budget. His comments here clearly indicate his belief the communication crisis has been addressed with the Board of Education (BOE) and with community stakeholders. At the end of the day, he says the new Superintendent will have to learn and make tough decisions.
“The one that’s different now I think for Mike is dealing with this national scale bitterness and separation politically particularly with Critical Race Theory (CRT) right now,” said Neavin. “I know there are a lot of rumors out there. I’ll tell you right now, I think Mike is in a great space on CRT and he and I see this similarly.”
Neavin explained he studied Critical Race Theory as part of his Doctoral studies at Miami University during 2010-2011. It was a theory. He looked at it and compared it to any other academic theory. He saw it as something upon which he may reflect, but never saw it as a curriculum. While at Loveland, he has seen the commentary from the community in emails and public forums.
“I don’t see it as appropriate for Loveland City Schools,” Neavin said. “Very clearly, the community has spoken on this issue. We go back to why the board needs to engage the people and listen to them because they are really smart. Our Middle-American values still stand. The reason we did the diversity, equity and inclusion work (DEI Group) was to make sure it was reflective of our local values.”
Neavin leaves it for Mike Broadwater to speak for himself on any and all issues in administration of Loveland Schools going forward. At the same time, he did not hesitate to say there is no truth to any rumors Michael Broadwater is planning to implement any form of Critical Race Theory teaching within Loveland Schools. Neavin remains available to assist Mike Broadwater during his transition into the position of Loveland City School District Superintendent. Neavin closed with some farewell words to the Loveland community.
“Thank you for your support,” said Neavin. “I would say to the community please before you go to the keyboard, go to the phone, go to the coffee shop; just talk to your people, talk to your educators. I think Mike (Broadwater) is going to do an outstanding job here. He’s going to need the community support. He has an exceptional team. There are no limits as to what can happen in this community. All the more reason I hate to leave.”
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