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Posted on Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent interviews begin Monday

By Amy Biolchini


The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education during a meeting Wednesday, April 24.

Courtney Sacco I file photo

Interviews with the six candidates for the next superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools will begin 10 a.m. Monday.

The two-day process will be held at the Courtyard Marriott at 3205 Boardwalk Boulevard in Ann Arbor. The Board of Education finalized a list of questions for the six candidates last week.

During Monday's session, which is expected to last until about 5 p.m., the following candidates will be interviewed:

  • Jeanice Kerr Swift, assistant superintendent of Colorado Springs District 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Brian Osborne, superintendent of South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey
  • Richard Faidley, superintendent of Derry Township Schools in Hershey, Pa.

Interviews Tuesday will begin at 8 a.m. The following candidates will be interviewed then:

  • Henry Hastings, instructor at Eastern Michigan University College of Business
  • Sandra Harris, retired superintendent of Oak Park School District in Oak Park
  • Benjamin Edmondson, principal of Roberto Clemente High School in Ann Arbor

After all the candidates have been interviewed Tuesday, the Board of Education will meet with its search firm, Ray & Associates, to narrow the field to two or three finalists.

School board President Deb Mexicotte said she anticipates the meeting will last from about 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The interviews are open to the public.

Board members plan to visit the finalists' districts July 10-13.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Patricia Green's retirement is effective July 9. Hired on a five-year contract in July 2011, Green will leave after two years in the position.

In the interim period, David Comsa, the district's legal counsel and deputy superintendent of human resources and legal services, has been named the interim chief superintendent.

On July 15 and 16, the finalists will meet with various constituent groups and the public. Mexicotte said she anticipates public candidate presentations in the morning and public question and answer sessions in the early evening.

The next time the school board will convene will be July 17 at the Courtyard Marriott, when it expects to select a superintendent.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Bertha Venation

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Mexicott to little people: "SILENCE!!" "You have no power here! I'm running the show!"


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

I don't even get what a superintendent can do. It seems to me like their only job is to get as much money to teachers and students as possible. So basically they set a budget once a year with the help of 10 people. I would think the best superintendent candidate then would be someone who gets how useless their job is and would just sit around and stay out of everything.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

Basic bob, what does a boe do? Not being sarcastic, literally do not know/ get it...


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

Bob - The board should: 1) Set policy and priorities 2) Evaluate senior administrators on the job they do 3) Hold the senior administrators responsible for good use of resources, and execution of policy and priorities 4) Approve an annual budget 5) Set policies and priorities for labor contracts and approve any labor contracts 6) Deal with issues raised be the community that have not been (in the minds of the community) handled well by the administration 7) Hire and FIRE senior administration. If they did these things right, life would be so much better. Remember because they need $750 a student more in 2014-15 based on the current budget and again in 2015-1016, we will see the same fire drill start again in a couple of months.

Basic Bob

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

So we should pay $200k+ for a figurehead/scapegoat? Actually it's the board's job to sit back and stay out of everything, but somehow in the last two years that has gotten distorted into the mess we have now. Probably because we had a super that quit once she figured out she was expected to show up. What the superintendent SHOULD do: 1. Say no to the craziest notions from board members. Convince them there is a better way. 2. Hire good administrators and quickly fire the incompetent ones. Make sure everyone does the same. 3. Set a REAL budget and hold someone's feet to the fire to meet it - threaten their jobs. 4. Close the buildings we don't use. Fix the buildings we need. Move students and staff around to maximize efficiency. 5. Listen attentively to the union reps and then do what is actually right for the district. 6. Get everyone working for the district to focus on delivering a quality education. Inspire, cheerlead, coach, cajole, remind, and reward.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

Looks like they scheduled the top candidates for Monday and the "others" for Tuesday. After reading the Bio's, I'm not impressed with any of them. Osborne stands out, but thats not saying much. I hope the BOE does the background checks and asks tough questions. I'm not real confident that will happen. Wish I could be there just to see what this process looks like. I'm counting on coverage.

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

I am so thankful that you put the two local candidates in the "other" category! One was "encouraged" to leave a local district when she was superintendent. A former school board member who served with her indicated that she was nice, got along well with staff, said the right things, but accomplished NOTHING! Just what we don't need in AAPS! And the other local person was turned down for various superintendent positions because he did not have enough experience. One year as an elementary principal ( and AAPS moved him out of that elite school FAST), a few years at Scarlett, where some of the population has indicated the school is so much better off without him, and then a high school with maybe 150 students? These make him a viable candidate for becoming the next superintendent of AAPS? Any wonder why there is absolutely no TRUST in our current BOE?

Basic Bob

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

It could be the out-of-town candidates brought out their spouses to get a feel for the community and look at homes with a real estate agent. Something Mr. Green did not need to do.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

I would say they chose the candidates who needed to travel for Monday. Each will need to plan a full day for travel each way.

Wake Up A2

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Whoever will kiss up to Deb will win. So rather then one with a backbone we will get a puppet.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Unfortunately, it seems that this could be true. It could be one of the reasons for major problems in A2 district, or in all gov't jobs, for that matter - that the person who gets the job is the best puppet, not necessarily the best person for the job.

Susie Q

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

The budget cutting WILL go on without end until the politicians in Lansing decide to allocate more $ for public education. Snyder may SAY that he's upped spending.....but in reality, his first budget cut $470 per student in AAPS. This year AAPS will receive $5 more per student......yes, that's right $5. AAPS has lost about $700 per student from a peak Foundation Allowance of approx $9700 since 2007. Last year it was $9020.......hence the never-ending cuts. Good luck to the new Supt.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

"Bringing the bottom up to match the top over time, etc." Ah, but sadly the reality is always that the top comes down to meet the bottom.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:20 a.m.

aataxpayer - Go read some of the documents that actually surround the decisions and the comments made by the people in power at the time. I took the time to look at some of the archives at the library, because I could not remember what the thinking was. I would urge you to do likewise. A couple of people made noises about permanent hold harmless, but far more of the quotes were "long-term equalization". Bringing the bottom up to match the top over time, etc.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:05 a.m.

aDonBee - My recollection of Prop A is that school districts that historically funded schools well would be held harmless on an ongoing basis. You seem to be rewriting history.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Susie Q - AAPS was one of the highest funded districts in the state and still is in the top 15 of more than 500. The intention of the hold harmless money was to eventually bring the bottom districts up, while holding the top districts steady. For more than 15 years that did not happen. Now that the governor is following through on the intent of the 1994 law to give all schools equal funding, AAPS will see smaller increases. In total dollars, the funding is increasing in the STATE this year. AAPS being way, way above the median did not get a big increase, no surprise. If you think things are tight in Ann Arbor try one of the districts that gets $2,000 less per student. After all with 30 students in a classroom, AAPS has more than $420,000 to fund that classroom when you look at all of its income. The teacher - all in costs $104,000 - so where is the other $316,000 going?

Claude Kershner

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Three out of town candidates would mean absorbing relocation charges to Ann Arbor. If one of them were hired it means before a single day on the job the BOA committed to an additional 5 digit expenditure over and above salary. The final selection also raises the question of how a retired Super made the cut in light of the current super retiring 3 years earlier than expected? That leaves two local candidates including an individual who leads one of the most expensive and controversial schools in Ann Arbor. Is anyone besides me nervous?

Basic Bob

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

"one of the most expensive and controversial schools in Ann Arbor" Well, did you feel that way when he was at King or Scarlett? The principal does not control the cost structure of the school any more than he controls the attendance boundaries or socioeconomic class of the families. Otherwise we might be looking at the current or former Dean of Community High School. This certainly is a stretch for Dr. Edmondson, having no experience as a superintendent. However he is qualified, as are all the other candidates. The board should not be encouraged by the results of their last national search. The most qualified candidate by experience and education may not prove to be the best hire. Hopefully they can peek under the sheepskin and see what makes each candidate tick.

Susie Q

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Be very nervous. If the selection is a good one, the relocation $ will be well-worth it. The EMU guy might work out.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Please do not make this a beauty pageant. Take time to study each candidate and understand their backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses. None of them have it "ALL". Decide what you want or think you want from each one and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the rest of the cabinet. Pick someone who can LEAD the cabinet and the district, blending the strengths of the cabinet with the strengths of the superintendent. Pick someone who can move the district forward on one or two key issues (and PLEASE don't make that the now 30+ year old achievement gap). Please do get away from the softball questions that Ray&Assoc use in the first round and ask the kinds of questions that are tailored to the candidate. Otherwise this might as well be a beauty pageant and in two years nothing will have changed - we will be right back looking for another superintendent who got tired of a laundry list of priorities and two years of tough budget cutting, that seems to go on without end. The superintendent will face a structural budget issue, a partially started evaluation system for administrators, a partially started zero based budgeting system, a tech bond that has been authorized, but only a trickle has been actually spent to improve the classrooms and student learning. Which of these does the board want to be priorities? Which candidates can deal with them? How do you know that? Every candidate brings different skills to the game, which ones do you need BOE? Can you PRIORITIZE BOE?

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

Interviews are one aspect of making an informed choice. Please do your homework BOE and look deeply into who each candidate is from all angles of past positions.