Ann Arbor school board selects six candidates for superintendent, discusses interview process
The candidates for the next superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools have been whittled down to six potential new leaders from all over the country.
The candidates are: â€¢ William DeFrance, superintendent of Eaton Rapids Public Schools in Michigan; â€¢ Patricia Green, superintendent of the North Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania; â€¢ Paul Long, chief executive officer of the Pennsbury School District in Pennsylvania; â€¢ Michael Munoz, chief academic officer of Des Moines Public Schools in Iowa; â€¢ Shelley Redinger, superintendent of the Oregon Trail School District in Oregon â€¢ Manuel Rodriguez, assistant superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland
The Ann Arbor school board met in a closed session Wednesday to review candidates that Ray & Associates, the firm hired to lead the search, believed met the board’s criteria. All the candidates had been contacted by the search firm and have agreed to be interviewed next week.
The interviews are scheduled to take place next week over three days: candidate will be interviewed at 1 p.m. Tuesday, 1 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Feb. 18.
In a public meeting Wednesday night, trustees discussed holding the interviews at various locations, including the Washtenaw Intermediate School District building on Wagner Road and a local hotel, mentioning the Dahlmann Campus Inn, 615 Huron St., as a possible location. A definitive location is expected this week. The interviews will be open to the public and are expected to run about two hours for each of the six candidates.
DeFrance interviewed for the Northville Public Schools superintendent job late last year and has a background in business, according to a Patch.com report.
Green resigned from her post as superintendent of her Pennsylvania school district in January in search of a new challenge, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She has served as superintendent of the North Allegheny School District for nine years.
Long announced his retirement as chief executive officer of Pennsbury School District in Pennsylvania in January after serving as district leader since 2006, according to a report in the Bucks County Courier Times. The chief executive officer is that district’s equivalent of superintendent.
Munoz has been working as an administrator in Des Moines for five years and has interviewed for a number of superintendent positions, including just last week for the job in Davenport, Iowa, according to a report in the Quad-City Times.
Redinger has served as superintendent of the Oregon Trail School district in Sandy, Ore. since 2007.
Rodriguez serves as assistant superintendent of middle schools for Baltimore County Schools, one of the largest in the state of Maryland with more than 100,000 students.
Trustees said they believed a hotel would be the best place to hold the interviews because it would give candidates the chance to see Ann Arbor, while removing the interviewers from the relative comfort of school buildings.
“They’re going to have some time other than the interview time where they can walk to different places in Ann Arbor,” said trustee Glenn Nelson. “I realize there are limits to things you can do in a few minutes in town, but you get more of a flavor of Ann Arbor.”
Trustees spent the majority of Wednesday’s meeting hammering out which questions they will ask the candidates at the interviews next week. Among the topics expected to be covered in approximately 25 questions candidates will be asked are professional development, dealing with labor entities and leadership qualities and style.
Trustee Christine Stead said she wants to make sure all areas of the job are covered during the interviews and that board members get a good sense of the candidates as people as well.
"I want to be very careful we don’t ask very many questions, and the questions that we do ask help us get to know them very well," she said.
One of the most prolonged discussions during the meeting came when trustees attempted to figure out the exact language of a question about how candidates deal with personnel issues in schools.
Board president Deb Mexicotte said she wasn’t exactly sure how to ask a candidate if they had the “stomach to be the superintendent” in a district like Ann Arbor.
Trustee Andy Thomas said he simply wanted to examine a candidate’s willingness to deal with tough issues in a straightforward way.
“I want to know if they will deal with these issues head on and not take the easy way out, which has happened frequently,” he said.”
Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.