MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The leaders of one of Butler County’s largest school systems decided to stay with a veteran district administrator in picking its next superintendent.
Deborah Houser was chosen Monday evening by the Middletown Board of Education as the new leader of the city school district.
The current assistant superintendent of the 6,300-student school system will take over the superintendent’s position when she begins on March 1, one day after Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. leaves the job to work as a partner in a national education firm.
Houser is a 15 year-veteran of Middletown Schools and will be the first woman in the 170-year history of the city’s public schools to occupy the superintendent’s job.
Houser, who began her career as a kindergarten teacher and worked her way up through school principal, university professor and district administrator of various titles, including human resources director, praised Styles for the sweeping reforms installed in his leadership since 2017.
“My goal as superintendent is to ensure that the district doesn’t miss a beat. I look forward to continuing to serve the amazing Middie community while guaranteeing the new strategic vision comes alive,” Houser told the board and meeting audience.
District officials noted after the board’s unanimous vote that “while serving as assistant superintendent, Houser has been a chief architect of Middletown’s “Passport to Tomorrow.”
The six-year plan serves as the district’s strategic vision to help inspire students to develop transferable workforce skill sets, leading to life-changing career opportunities upon graduation.
After the board’s unanimous agreement to appoint Houser, School Board President Chris Urso described Houser as a leader who can join together various school contingencies for a common cause.
“In Deb we not only have a known dynamic leader, we have a builder. She has a track record of building relationships with staff and community leaders, and building curriculum,” said Urso.
“The board of education knows the talent we already have in someone like Deb,” he said.
“And the staff and students know her, and she offers continuity for Middletown Schools. We feel confident that the future of Middletown is in good hands.”
Fellow board member Verlena Stewart said, “Deb is 100% competent and prepared for the role, and I look forward to her ideas, energy, and enthusiasm.”
Praise for Houser also came from beyond the board as community leaders such as Middletown Police Chief Dave Birk, who attended the meeting, said he was confident the “passion and the energy” Styles brought to the job will continue.
And Rick Pearce, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, said “Deb is a great choice and has all the support of The Chamber of Commerce.”
“We are eager to continue our efforts with MCSD, especially when it comes to Passport To Tomorrow,” said Pearce.
Houser will have a contract with the school board running through July 31, 2026, and she will receive a base annual salary of $160,000.
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