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Posted on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 6:03 a.m.

Ann Arbor school board selects six candidates for superintendent, discusses interview process

By Kyle Feldscher

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: • William DeFrance, superintendent of Eaton Rapids Public Schools in Michigan; • Patricia Green, superintendent of the North Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania; • Paul Long, chief executive officer of the Pennsbury School District in Pennsylvania; • Michael Munoz, chief academic officer of Des Moines Public Schools in Iowa; • Shelley Redinger, superintendent of the Oregon Trail School District in Oregon • 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 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 He can be reached at



Sat, Feb 12, 2011 : 1:38 a.m.

It seems like YpsiLivin and DonBee have put more thought into this search/interview process than the trustees. Let's hope the trustees read through this set of comments.


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

So, holding the interviews at the Marriott hotel fits the goal of letting the candidates see Ann Arbor? That's the best we have to offer?


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

I'll bet if Long is hired, Green will be nearby, and if Green is hired, Long will be here also!!

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

I bet Paul Long (61) wouldn't stick around for 20 years. He's already retired twice, first from the Navy, second from the public school system.

Bertha Venation

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

I think DonBee says it best!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

Agree with Ypsilivin that this is a pretty thin list of candidates and/or we're providing them with a big payday. We have a double dipper, who loves his school district but will retire because he is eligible for retirement. Long, 61, commented briefly after the meeting about why he will be retiring. "I have reached the end of my contract and I'm eligible for retirement," he said. "I plan to continue my professional career," he noted. Long has been with the district for 12 years and has been in public school service for 20 years. Prior to his service with the school district, he was a U.S. Naval officer. Long has his master's degree in business administration from the Wharton School and his doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. He was appointed business administrator for Pennsbury in 1999. He was then named chief executive officer in 2006. "I love Pennsbury," Long said. "Pennsbury's a wonderful place." Another candidate (Rodriguez) is a candidate at lots of other places - probably with lower salaries. After all, he's looking to move from an assistant to superintendent. Didn't stumble across any Doris Hope-Jackson's with a litigation history.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the purpose of extending the superintendent's salary by $65K to attract sitting superintendents from larger school districts? If so, this is what you're looking at in terms of enrollments. (Enrollments are rounded.) Eaton Rapids - 3,100 Oregon Trail School District, 3,950 North Allegheny School District - 8,100 Pennsbury School District, 11,200 Baltimore County Public Schools - middle school enrollment (est) - 27,800? Des Moines Public School District, 31,200 Four of the six candidates are from districts that are significantly smaller than Ann Arbor, and only two of those six are currently working as superintendents. Among the two active superintendents, they supervise districts that are less than 20% and 25% of the size of Ann Arbor, respectively. Of the two that were superintendents and now are not, one of the candidates has already retired from one school district. (How long will this retired superintendent even stick around?) The other candidate, who is 61, was a superintendent but resigned to look for a "new challenge." Same question. Will Ann Arbor be looking for a new superintendent again in four years? The remaining two candidates aren't superintendents. One is a chief academic officer and the other is an assistant superintendent OF MIDDLE SCHOOLS in the Baltimore County Public Schools. While the entire enrollment of the K-12 system in Baltimore County may exceed 100,000, the middle school enrollment certainly doesn't. How many students is this candidate actually responsible for? It doesn't look like the search firm delivered on the plan they laid out for the school board, which was the premise for the gargantuan superintendent's raise.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

I have to wonder how the search firm vetted these candidates. I worked in the same system as one of them, and I've heard that the teachers will be overjoyed to see him go. He overloaded their work day with requirements for massive data collection that ultimately contributed nothing to educational practices. At a meeting, he lined up principals according to their school's AYP rankings, a real morale booster. A candidate can look good on paper and say all the right things, but I hope the board investigates on the ground. A fifteen year contract? Not until you see what you got.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

"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." So will this be an additional cost?

Bertha Venation

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

GOOD question! Cost? Why would we want to "remove the interviewers from the relative comfort of school buildings?" #1, they're not all that comfortable; #2, why do the interviewers have to be uncomfortable? Either way, I don't quite understand it.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

"relative comfort of school buildings"? have they been in one lately?


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Looks like there are some good candidates, check out <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

@demystify: I'm not sure that a huge salary is indicative of qualifications but I do think it takes &quot;stomach&quot; and an ego to think that you are a savior.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

Questions I would like to hear asked and answered: 1) How do you actually close the achievement gaps (black/white, white/asian, etc) 2) What will you do with the middle schools to actually get them to teach children something useful? 3) How do we deal with children who are not going to college? What changes should the district make? 4) In this climate of poor economy - what will you do that will actually help stretch the budget? 5) You have had a mobile career, moving from job to job. If we want a 15 year contract with you (via options) are you open to that? How do we get you to stay here long term? 6) How are you going to create a succession plan for the district for key roles? 7) If we offered you $165,000.00 a year would you still be interested in the job?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

Good Questions all! Good Night and Good Luck

Andrew Thomas

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

DonBee, you will have a chance to ask these and any other questions you wish. During the interview of the finalist candidates, members of the community will be invited to write out questions for the candidates to answer. BTW, were you aware that the District web page had a space where members of the community could submit questions to the Board?

Bertha Venation

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

DonBee, you are soooo RIGHT! Excellent questions and very well thought out! I think YOU should do the interviewing!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

When you have a Board &quot;elected&quot; in uncontested elections, an obviously ideologically united political machine, the Superintendent has little scope for initiative. It take a big salary to attract a qualified candidate under these circumstances.

Silly Sally

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

I wonder what the true objectives of the AA School board is for a new School Superintendent? Especially since they &quot;want to be very careful we don't ask very many questions.&quot; Is it based upon a person's management skill? Why did this article not list them? Is there an affirmative action agenda in selecting the candidate, instead of only looking for the best person? I notice that a disproportionate number are from one ethnic group and another group seems underrepresented. What requirements did the board tell their search firm? Do they have a hidden agenda?


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 10:42 p.m.

I'm at a loss! Where are you getting information about ethnicity?

Jeff Gaynor

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

All one has to do is consider the range of comments to on education issues to understand the board president's perceptive and pointed question.

Bertha Venation

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

&quot;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,&quot; REALLY??? REALLY??? For $240K, I'd ask A LOT of questions!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Bertha (I LOL every time I see your name) you are so right! NOW is the time to ask questions!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Strange question indeed. When the board has not shown &quot;the stomach&quot; to make hard decisions!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

I'm thinking that $240K per year should help with any &quot;stomach problems&quot;. Actually that was a rather odd comment by the board president, don't you think?

Stephen Landes

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

Maybe the question is &quot;does the candidate have the stomach to deal with our Board?&quot;