Ann Arbor school Superintendent Todd Roberts resigns
Ann Arbor school district Superintendent Todd Roberts has resigned to move to North Carolina to be with his family.
Roberts said he would stay through fall while a replacement is sought. At a press conference in North Carolina this morning, Roberts said he would start as chancellor of the North Carolina School of Science and Math on Dec. 1.
"This decision is about our family," he said in a telephone interview this afternoon. "My parents and wife's parents live in North Carolina. They have had health issues in the past year. This is a good time to get to help out. We started having discussions about moving back, but this happened a little quicker than we anticipated, but when you do what I do, there's not that many opportunities."
Roberts has been superintendent of the roughly 16,400-student Ann Arbor district for the last four years. He came from Birmingham, where he was an assistant superintendent. He earned $188,000 last year.
Roberts, 46, was born at the former Watts Hospital where NCSSM is now located.
"Dr. Roberts was pre-ordained to get this job," joked UNC President Erskine Bowles.
Roberts was named to that post today by the UNC system's Board of Governors, which oversees the public residential high school for top performing 11th and 12th graders from around the state. It's part of the the state's college system and is a residential high school program for talented students in math and science.
He will earn $210,000 annually, the News-Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported.
Roberts has a bachelor's degree from Duke and master's and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Roberts took over the Ann Arbor district from George Fornero, who announced his resignation shortly before revealing the under-construction Skyline High School was over-budget and one year behind schedule.
"(Roberts) really brought stability, focus and direction to the district," teachers union President Brit Satchwell said. "He's very good at bridging the latest in education research and philosophy and the practically of the front-line classroom. Todd's been a great superintendent."
Parent Michael Randolph agreed.
"It seemed like the district was really going in the right direction," the parent of two high schoolers said. "I'm surprised to hear he's leaving. It's a big loss for the district."
Roberts approached school board President Deb Mexicotte a couple of weeks ago to let her know he was interviewing for the job.
"It was indicated to me that it was about nothing but location and family matters," Mexicotte said. "This was entirely personal family decision."
Roberts had his second interview last week for the position and was introduced today in North Carolina.
Roberts had lived in Ann Arbor for seven years before taking over the reins. He came into a district in turmoil, with board meetings regularly stretching well into the early morning hours and debate over how the district's construction team got off track.
Multiple people said Roberts' legacy should rest strongly on his reorganization of the office and completing the overall bond project, which - in addition to building Skyline -also renovated every other building in the district.
Several district employees and board members also praised Roberts for his work on a strategic plan for the district and also for his leadership during tough financial times.
He also pushed for the establishment of an elementary World Language Program with the help of the University of Michigan.
"He was an educator," said LeeAnn Dickinson-Kelley, the district's elementary administrator who has worked for the district for 38 years. "Hands-down, Todd Roberts was the best (superintendent I've worked for). He redefined the role of leadership in the district. His form of leadership was to facilitate collaboration with those who worked for the district and with parents.
"He was a family man. While we're tremendously sad, the reason for the decision is very understandable. It fits with who he is."
The decision was hard to make, Roberts said.
"I've absolutely enjoyed my time here," he said. "It's a great community. We hate to leave the community. I hate to leave the school district. There's nothing about the job driving this decision. It's about being able to be closer to family.
"The thing I love about Ann Arbor is everybody values education. I just tried to listen to people and bring people into the district to help make decisions about the education we all wanted for our students."
David Jesse covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-623-2534.
Here is the full text of the e-mail sent to parents:
Dear AAPS Parents and Guardians:
I hope this letter finds you well and that you and your family are having an enjoyable summer.
It is with regret that I am writing to let you know that I will be resigning from my position as superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. This is a very difficult decision for my family and me to make. However, based on the needs of our parents and families, we feel that we need to be closer to them in North Carolina. I will be leaving later this fall to return to North Carolina where I have accepted the position of Chancellor of the North Carolina School of Science and Math. I wanted you to know of my planned departure before it became public knowledge. I plan to stay on as superintendent in Ann Arbor through the fall until a replacement is found and a smooth transition takes place.
Living in Ann Arbor for the past 11 years and working in the Ann Arbor Public Schools for the past 4 years has been one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling times of my life. I have had the great fortune to work with fantastic colleagues and our family has made lifelong friends. Ann Arbor has been a wonderful place to live, raise a family and work. In order to move closer to family I am fortunate to have an opportunity at this point to go to work at an outstanding educational institution in the North Carolina School of Science and Math which is located in my hometown. I hope to enjoy working there as much as I have enjoyed working with you and your children.
I want to thank you for your help and support over the past four years. As superintendent I play a very small part in the success of the school district; it is the work of our excellent staff, the leadership and support of a committed Board of Education and the support and involvement of you and our community that makes the Ann Arbor Public Schools exceptional. With your continued support and involvement I am certain that the Ann Arbor Public Schools will experience even greater success in the future.
Thank you again for the privilege of working with you and your children.
Sincerely, Todd Roberts