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Posted on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Recap: How the Ann Arbor school board picked 2 superintendent finalists

By Kellie Woodhouse

Ann Arbor is likely to have an out-of-towner with district administration experience as its next public schools superintendent.

In a five-two vote, the Board of Education chose a New Jersey district superintendent and the assistant superintendent in Colorado Springs as finalists for the top leadership position in Ann Arbor's public school system.

After sifting through 61 applications, the board interviewed six candidates, including three from Michigan, and narrowed the pool to two: Brian Osborne, the superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey who worked for the New York City Department of Education, and Jeanice Kerr Swift, the assistant superintendent of instruction, curriculum and student services for the Colorado Springs School District in Colorado.


Jeanice Kerr Swift and Brian Osborne


Interviews took place Monday and Tuesday and the board chose finalists Tuesday evening.

The board expects to visit the finalists' school districts later this week. Then early next week the board plans to bring candidates to Ann Arbor for further questioning. During those days, there will be a session where constituents can ask the finalists questions.

The chosen candidate will replace Patricia Green, who resigned Tuesday after serving two years as Ann Arbor's superintendent.

The board did not choose local candidates Sandra Harris, Benjamin Edmondson or Henry Hastings, or Richard Faidley from Hershey, Pa. Edmondson is the principal of Roberto Clemente High School and Hastings is a business instructor at Eastern Michigan University; both were contenders for a third finalist spot if the board had agreed to one.

The two nay votes Tuesday, offered by Simone Lightfoot and Susan Baskett, were in part cast because the two trustees wanted a third candidate brought into the finalist stage.

Lightfoot and Baskett wanted to see a local candidate on the short list. Baskett implored board members that the board would have "hell to pay" with the community for not choosing a local face as a finalist. Lightfoot said her inbox has been flooded with messages from supporters of Edmondson.

Yet trustees such as board president Deb Mexicotte, Irene Patalan and Andy Thomas said they felt like the four other candidates -including the local ones- weren't qualified and said they wouldn't feel comfortable hiring those candidates into the district's top role.

"We considered local candidates. We considered them for the process, we considered them at the table, we gave two local candidates interviews," Mexicotte said. "... There reaches a point in the search where other factors come into play and the reason that you want to have a broad range of candidates is to see all of those kinds of interplays, to figure out how much does "local" help the candidate versus an experience piece."

Mexicotte said she would like to see Edmondson offered a role within AAPS with more responsibility, which would prepare him for a superintendent role. Edmondson has made it to the finalist stage when applying to be the superintendent of other districts, but has not been selected.


Ann Arbor school board superintendent candidate and Roberto Clemente High School Principal Ben Edmondson is interviewed at the Courtyard Marriott in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, July 9.

Daniel Brenner I

Brian Osborne

Five of the seven BOE members ranked Osborne as their top choice in their individual assessments. Board members said his responses to questions were thoughtful. The board was impressed that Osborne thoroughly researched AAPS before the interview and offered detailed answers to questions about tackling the district's problems, such as AAPS' declining revenue. Trustees were satisfied that Osborne has experience in redistricting and in leading a school district.

Trustees also remarked on Osborne's honesty. During his interview, Osborne acknowledged the difficult issues facing the school district and the turnover the superintendent position has seen in the past decade. He asked the board how long a superintendent could last in Ann Arbor. He questioned whether the board is ready to make difficult decisions. Trustee Glenn Nelson said Osborne is aware of the dynamics of the board and superintendent relationship.

"I just thought he had the whole package," offered Mexicotte.

Trustees were also impressed with Osborne's take on the superintendent's role.

"Visibility is a huge and important part of the job and at the same time it's not the job. The job is systems improvement," he told trustees when he interviewed Monday. He also said Ann Arbor needs a multifaceted approach it its problems. "There is no silver bullet."

Trustees were concerned with the district's budget problems -the district has incurred an average 10 percent budget gap each year over the past five years. In his interview, Osborne said his financial acumen was a key strength. Trustees agreed. Trustee Christine Stead said Osborne was the only candidate who emphasized creating new revenue streams for the school, instead of mainly emphasizing cuts.

Jeanice Kerr Swift

Meanwhile, board members said they were impressed by Swift's enthusiasm. Lightfoot joked that Swift is reminiscent of the Duracell Bunny. Baskett said she appeared genuine and heartfelt.

Trustees said they felt comfortable with her experience as one of the top leaders in a large district. That experience, they said, gives them confidence Swift can tackle challenging, complicated issues, such as the district's achievement gap and dwindling reserves. Trustees also agreed that Swift was a concise communicator.

"She's from a district twice our size," Mexicotte said. "She manages a fairly large budget and has a proven track record of student achievement."

Thomas said Swift "gave the best responses regarding issues having to do with establishing trust, accessibility to the community." In their interviewing of candidates, board members asked several questions pertaining to communication, visibility and media relationships.

"Even when people don't agree with your decision, they will respect when you have a full, open, transparent and robust process," Swift told the board during her interview.

Swift is also applying for superintendent jobs in other districts.

Mexicotte says that while some constituents might be unsatisfied with the board's choice for superintendent, the "proof is in the pudding."

"Can we bring the best possible candidate to this district?" she said. "If we do then the community will see that we took a path and did the right thing."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sun, Jul 14, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

it's all about 2-5 years they'll be doing it all over again.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

So the school just emailed out the schedules for the finalist interviews next week. It is no surprise that all of the locations are away from cameras and recording equipment. So if you don't go to the meetings or Ms. Woodhouse does not do her magic blogging, you will not know what happened during the meetings. I expect another softball set of interview questions and no real deep discussions. The public gets a chance at the candidates at 7PM - but I suspect that the meetings will be short from a Q&A standpoint, with someone from AAPS or the BOE filling much of the available time. Those public meetings are: Dr. Jeanice Swift Tuesday, July 16 at 7pm Skyline High School Dr. Brian Osborne Wednesday, July 17 at 7pm Skyline High School The final vote will be at Balas - not the library - at 5:30 on Friday next week.

Lou Perry

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Can't say local candidates were better suited than those from out of area; I just don't know. But only two Michigan Candidate's seems less than logical. I no longer have a child in AA schools and not as close as others to the issues. But I haven't seen a job description and key objectives for the new superintendent. That would be the case in the corporate world. If there isn't the above, politics becomes a large issue. As an aside, my son attended Pioneer HS. I have never been more impressed with a staff of teachers and counselors; they really cared.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

Thank you to Kellie Woodhouse and for providing the coverage of the interviews. This blog by Ann Arbor parent Ruth Kraut has additional information and perspective posted about the candidate interviews. She also has an audio copy of Osborne and Edmonson's interviews. The comments on the S Maple New Jersey article are very informative and on the last page, those comments post a link back to Ruth Kraut's blog. While criticism abounds for online commenting, it is important that online commenters, like them or not, are a new part of media coverage everywhere. Parents in both New Jersey and Ann Arbor know more about Osborne from commenters and about problems in each district. The NJ parent comments about the Ann Arbor district are on point. They joke about the thankless job of being superintendent in Ann Arbor for upwards of $180K and the question of who will buy out the last year of Osborne's contract.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

There are many favorable comments about Osborne, but several as the comments go on that make him sound very much like Green in style but he presents himself better and has better social skills. The negative commenters say he is an elitist, more ivory tower than hands on. The positive comments refer to his style and that he seems like a guy who cares about kids, which is admirable. I would like to see more data about his track record and how the teaching staff in the district viewed him working under his leadership. The board should disclose more about the candidates internally who applied for the superintendent job who were not chosen as interview finalists. I have a hard time believing that there were not other internal candidates besides Ben Edmondson who submitted an application. @ Kellie and -- is Trustee Baskett visiting New Jersey and Colorado as a sole board delegate or is she taking another board member with her. If she takes Nelson with her, we are in worse shape. I hope that Stead or Thomas can join Baskett in the visit. Of the board members right now, I only see Stead, Thomas and sometimes Lightfoot as willing to really ask tough questions about facts and results.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

@aapselemparent - interesting points you make. So you know Osborne well that you are talking about his kids and philosophy of education or are you synthesizing what you read in the newspaper comments. I read the notes in Ruth Kraut's blog about the Broad foundation and agree that is a problem and the search firm criticisms are fair, but too late. I disagree that the points commenters made about Osborne are not concerning and while good communication would be a step forward, I want to know more about Osborne has done hands-on in his district (same concern with Swift) and how teachers feel working under Osborne in a much smaller district than Ann Arbor. I will have to read more about the superintendent graduate program he went to. He certainly sounds and speaks like he is a sincere man with an ability to talk about negatives and problems in a forthright way. That alone would be a step forward. I have very low confidence in this BOE to make a decision that will truly help students and teachers in the district at the building level. Thanks again for posting the link to the NJ story and for again highlighting Ruth Kraut's blog


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

I find that there are 2 board members I trust, 4 board members I don't and 1 I am not sure of. I would like to see that the trips are conducted by at least 2 board members, and that they take the time to talk to people who are not on the candidate's list of people to talk to or the Ray&Assoc list of people to talk to. I would love the reports of the conversations to be made public as soon as the trips are complete, but they will not be, will have to FOIA them and they will be too late for the community to know what the board knew, deepening the distrust.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

good comments/observations.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

@aapselementparent -- thank you for posting the link to the S. Maple New Jersey article about Osborne. There are some reassuring comments but also some concerning ones. The comment on page 3 by "Bishop" saying that Osborne would be a perfect candidate to work for a weak board is troublesome. Ann Arbor has a weak board that demonstrated with Green's tenure that they let her have a long set up time and then when she started to make changes and hires of new cabinet member, Mexicotte let her. Then as this pattern went on, the board started to question and comment and criticize. There was more public criticism and then she resigned at 1:30 a.m. during a meeting. This point is mentioned by parents in New Jersey in the comments, saying that Osborne is leaving partly because of salary caps in New Jersey and being criticized or block from carrying out his mission as an educator. He has a lot of strengths it seems, better than Swift, in my view, and I like it that he has young kids in the district potentially, but I am less confident after reading these comments, especially those on page 2 towards the bottom and page 3


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

@aapselementparent -- sorry I posted this comment in the wrong spot. It was meant to be here: @aapselemparent - interesting points you make. Do you know Osborne well that you are talking about his kids and philosophy of education or are you synthesizing what you read in the newspaper comments? I read the notes in Ruth Kraut's blog about the Broad foundation and agree that is a problem and the search firm criticisms are fair, but too late. I disagree that the points commenters made about Osborne are not concerning and while good communication would be a step forward. But I want to know more about Osborne has done hands-on in his district (same concern with Swift) and how teachers feel working under Osborne in a much smaller district than Ann Arbor. I want to know the same about Swift and whether her experiences in the Colo. Springs district is really relevant for Ann Arbor. I want to know where both Osborne and Swift are applying besides Ann Arbor. I will have to read more about the superintendent graduate program he went to. He certainly sounds and speaks like he is a sincere man with an ability to talk about negatives and problems in a forthright way. That alone would be a step forward. I have very low confidence in this BOE to make a decision that will truly help students and teachers in the district at the building level. Thanks again for posting the link to the NJ story and for again highlighting Ruth Kraut's blog


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

I agree, the strengths and weaknesses are illuminated here, but isn't that what we want - a fuller and more realistic picture of him? Sure, some of it is concerning, but it wouldn't be realistic to expect all wine and roses. The perceived weaknesses will seem worse for some than others, they don't strike me as overly concerning. What is concerning is the potential links to the Broad foundation and all of that ..., check Ruth Kraut's blog - I'd like to see more digging relating to all of that. His kids were not in district in South Orange-Maplewood (and they didn't have much of a problem with that), he's stated that they would be here. I think that makes a difference, it could force him to reconcile educational philosophy with the immediate impact on the kids more readily. One of the criticisms in SOM was that he was very philosphy-driven, sometimes at a cost and I think having his kids in the schools will temper that tendency. Additionally, he is a much better communicator than we've had in ages (ever?) and there would be plenty of opportunities for the community/parents to challenge problematic directions being taken. The accusations of his being elitist seem a throwaway, just an easy dig given his schooling, etc. Most don't blame him at all regarding the salary cap, there are many more comments attacking Christie for this flawed policy. He voluntarily donated a 3% raise earlier in his tenure anyhow, so the salary issues are hardly the driver for him.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

Jackson and Sharpton will be marching in Ann Arbor soon!

Basic Bob

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:49 a.m.

Doubtful. There are lots of black superintendents, even Ann Arbor has had some.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.

Old, tired, banal. (sigh)

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

I will go out on a limb here, and state that the two board members who wanted a third candidate on the final list, were not really focused on a local candidate, what they really wanted was someone of their own race, period. Qualifications just don't count sometimes...


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Hastings was #3 on the list, Edmondson was #4 in the scoring, you can check Ms. Woodhouse's blog for the scoring in the other article, she captured it. The gap was large (almost double) between the first pair and the next pair. Doing some analysis on the numbers, it looks like one or maybe two board members ranked people very differently than the rest of the board members, but we will never see the score sheets, so that is all speculation. The board now needs to find common ground and finish what they started.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

And according to the scoring, wasn't Edmonson number 4 on the list. If they had to have a 3rd finalist, shouldn't it have been Hasting, wasn't he number 3?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Based on their email comments, it sounded like they certainly did want Edmondson as a third choice for the running. Whether it was race-related or not, we don't know. However, if one checks the AAAA administrators most recent contract on the AAPS website.... Article V Letter B: The Board and the Association agree that continuing effort be directed toward recruiting and retaining minority group persons (African-Americans) and women in administrative positions. I do not understand why the "(African-Americans)" needed to be added? Are no other ethnicities considered "minority"? Personally, I think they still haven't found exactly what AAPS needs at the helm, but I'm also not sure if that person even exists, lol


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

J.A. Pieper, you do a lot of complaining about others only being conscious of race and yet you seem to not be able to see anything else yourself. If Edmondson was one of the 2 contenders for a third finalist spot then it had to be more than just the two African American board members who thought he was a decent candidate. Edmondson ranked 3 or 4 out of 61 applicants but he isn't qualified to be amongst the finalists? Your comments are *disturbing* (=a euphemism for another word that might get my comment deleted).

Basic Bob

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

I could go out on a limb and suggest you oppose him for the same reason. Confusing longevity with aptitude is the fatal flaw of the union mentality.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Not choosing Ben Edmonson is AAPS loss. People begged for a local candidate. He is the strongest candidate we have and I believe he would seek resources for areas he needed support. He would get things done. No fear. Loves the kids in the AAPS and wants to see them succeed. As for comments regarding where he lives and AAPS hiring principals from outside AA? Do you know how many current principals do not live in Ann Arbor? I can think of several off the top of my head. Also we just hired a principal from a nearby district. Parents, teachers and administrators are happy to see him leave. Did we interview them?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

"Mexicotte says that while some constituents might be unsatisfied with the board's choice for superintendent, the "proof is in the pudding."" Aaarrrrgh. This person is the head of our Board of Education??? She should be summarily fired!!! :) The proof of the pudding is in the eating, Deb....

Basic Bob

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:45 a.m.

That's why I didn't vote for her when she stood for reelection. Now she is in for another full term, and there is nothing we can do about it. Is she still grinding the axe over punishment for an eighth grade food fight? And we all must suffer for her insecurity.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

I like the sound of the two candidates chosen. They both have some experience in districts with dwindling resources. They both seem open, energetic, and engaged. Swift seems to have more experience managing a large district budget. Osborne has worked in some tough jobs. But Osborne would be my choice because he will have young children in AAPS, giving him a significant investment in ensuring that academic priorities are not overlooked. Letting go reading specialists in the early grades was a huge mistake this year! I would like to see him say how he would have handled it without dipping deeper into our fund equity. Is there something in this budget that he would have taken out in order to fund all the reading specialists? In looking at the budget and supporting documents, does he see the information he needs to spot questionable expenses? If not, how would he suggest we change the budget process? I would like to see these two candidates given a couple of specific questions like this in advance and given the financial and outcome data to look into and then give us an answer. Then I would like to see follow-up questions from the board. Really challenge these two to see how they think, how they organize and present a nuanced response. Play hardball!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

"For more of his community's thoughts on their schools and Osborne, check out" This is a key link and some decently comforting information, thank you aamom for providing it. I think Obsborne could be really good for us.

Lets Get Real

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

How much did we pay to have this "search firm" find these folks? Yikes! They ought to be giving us a refund. Hastings has the experience (perfect combination of law, business and education for the challenges at this time) and his "successor-in-training", Edmondson, should be elevated to a position to learn from him and be ready to take over when Hastings retires. All the others: blah, blah, blah with the buzzwords: "collaborative", "achievement gap", "bring stability", etc. Listen to them - they say a whole lot of nothing! Lots of "what they want to hear education speak". Yikes! Osborne will never make it in a little town in the Midwest after seeing the bright lights of NY. Not enough sophistication here for the likes of him. He'll be yearning for the big city in nothing flat. Swift hardly exhibits any leadership qualities - no "come follow me" feelings when I hear her talk, and she comes from an extremely conservative community. Ann Arbor will chew her up and spit her out. Way to meek and mild. She'll be homesick in the first month. What makes this board think either of these candidates are a good "fit" in Ann Arbor? You've got two great homegrown candidates. Do the right thing.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

Mr/Ms. Real - The search was a refund from the prior search. Little or nothing was paid for the services, because of the warranty on the prior search that yielded Dr. Green.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

If a local candidate is not suited for the position then the board should not cave to public pressure of "hell to pay!" This is one of their problems. You need to make choices based on what is BEST for ALL students in this district. With the last three elementary hires for principal only ONE was a local candidate and the other two were from outside of AAPS.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

And the local one who was hired, well the only reason he got the job was because only administrators interviewed the candidates. When there were teachers, community members, and other administrators on the previous hiring committee, he was ranked so low he was not considered for any of the five schools!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Basic bob, I didn't say it was obvious to everyone. I guess I could have qualified that statement, but as you know, there is no edit button. Perhaps the BOE received emails from some parents who did not want certain candidates. Who knows. It was pointed out that the majority of BOE members refrained from sharing emails. I'm sure you can see I feel strongly that caving to a few vocal voices is no way to hire an SI. I want to see what's best for the district, local or not. We need an overhaul. If Edmonson had been principal at Pioneer or Skyline in addition to RC, then perhaps he would have been a more appropriate, well-rounded candidate. Perhaps if they want to groom Edmonson for the future, they should have him learn the district by moving high school principals around. Caving to a few vocal voices is lame. We need an SI, not a student body president.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

ttbo, it is not obvious to everyone. that is why he was chosen from a large stack of applications as a semifinalist. try harder.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Totally agree. There are a considerable number of parents in this district who do NOT feel Edmonson is best for the job. Did we send emails to the BOE? No. Because its OBVIOUS. Really, if the BOE wants to "cave to public pressure", they could start with not allowing a certain member to ramble on about agenda, not show inappropriate board behavior by attending court proceedings supporting one student over another, and many other things. Oh, and some of them could "cave" by stepping down from the BOE for their incompetence. The district needs an overhaul.

Linda Peck

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

The advantage to picking a local candidate seems obvious. They know the problems and how the came to be. I am disappointed that a local candidate did not make the cut. I think it is the wrong direction, it is wasteful of time and talent.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

"he has not shown the strength to lead any of the schools ... in the right direction" I've had three (white) children in Scarlett. He was a major improvement over his predecessor, who enforced no rules at all and prepared children of all races for second class citizenship. Middle school children thrive when someone actually sets goals and boundaries for them, and holds them accountable. Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Broom may not be as charismatic, but they have also kept order in the school. Unfortunately TAPPAN parents and teachers continue to spread lies about Scarlett.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

And he has not shown the strength to lead any of the schools he was principal of in the right direction. So why do people feel he has what we need! Oh, maybe because his EGO matches that of AAPS?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

One local candidate is part of the problem. He is on the AAAA committee that took WAY too long to take a pay cut.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Osborne's current contract runs through the end of next June; otherwise, I expect that the note about Swift ("is also applying for superintendent jobs in other districts") would be true of him as well. (Especially since, were he to stay in M'wood, he would have to take about a $30K pay cut next year to conform to the Christie Administration's pay-cap practices.) Of course, he will have to break the final year of that contract if he takes the job there.

Resident A2

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

"Lightfoot said her inbox has been flooded with messages from supporters of Edmondson." If this is the case, why only her inbox and not all of the board members??

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

Because she supported Edmondson for their racial similarities, and the messages probably came from His supporters, who also might be of the same race. His EGO has to be fed after this public turning him down for the position.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

What does Lightfoot consider "flooded?" Ten emails? More? My email is flooded with junk mail that I ignore. Delete.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Resident - If I had to answer your question, I'd say that Trustees Lightfoot and Baskett are both probably are getting a lot of email from a small but very vocal group of supporters of Ben Edmondson. Those supporters are addressing the two trustees who most strongly supported Edmondson's candidacy, and who the group knows will speak out (often at great length) about the good qualities of their favored candidate. They may be addressing the entire BoE, but unless some of the commenters share that info in this forum, we won't know that. The other trustees have been less partisan in their public comments, and are not talking publicly about e-mail or other community input they have received about the various candidates. It doesn't mean they haven't gotten any. It means the other 5 trustees are adhering to the formal process by maintaining confidentiality about which trustee rated which candidate high, low, or middle-of-the-pack.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

John Agno has a very valid point regarding growing new leaders from within. Start with Mr Edmondson who clearly has a strong background and interest in leadership of our schools. I further challenge the Board to provide a contract to the new Superintendent that will help retain them as opposed to allowing them to leave with a large chunk of the AAPS's money in their pocket. It concerns me that former administrators have given the appearance of using our dollars as stepping stones while we continue to suffer cutbacks.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

I had to laugh when I saw this had a negative voter score. Check your resources for the Superintendent history, cutbacks and dollars flowing OUT with the prior administration. Very fact filled. Clearly someone is not doing their homework.

Jim Osborn

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Does Kellie Woodhouse sleep? She has done a great job reporting all of this. I especially liked her live blog, where it does not need to be perfect - I'm amazed that she did what she did. Now I need to find the time to read all of what she wrote. I liked everything so far. Both finalists seem great. I liked the comment, "emphasized creating new revenue streams for the school, instead of mainly emphasizing cuts." But, how will this be done? Please do not increase Pay to Play fees. Perhaps they need to look and learn why families are leaving the district and going to private schools.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

I agree with you JimOsborn - it sounds like there are some people who are still unhappy, but I think the BOE did a good job looking at a variety of candidates, not just someone who fit one "box." At this point I'd be happy with either candidate chosen. As someone mentioned yesterday, there is no "silver bullet" fix, it's going to be a multi-faceted approach.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

i too can't believe that no one in the a.a.p.s. district is qualified for this position ? why bring in someone who has zero ties to this community and hasn't got a clue about how things are done around here ? perhaps its a control issue ? the local candidates know whats happening around here and they couldn't be fooled but an outsider is 'FRESH MEAT' !! whoever gets selected will not have any reason, (other than a big pay check ) to put in the time that this position requires. he (she) doesn't have to worry about answering to their neighbors and friends like a local person would because they don't have any yet ! if the board is looking for someone to come in here and start firing people left and right then i guess it would be better to have an outsider do it than a local one but if not then it would make a hell of alot more sense to hire someone from here ! it takes a long time to build up both working and personal relationships, the local candidates already have them so why bring in someone who doesn't ?

Willie Reid

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

I also find it very hard to believe that there isn't a qualified candidate internally. The question is besides Dr. Edmondson, who else applied? Will we ever know? Probably not.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Murphthesurf- Your arguments for a local candidate all assume that maintaining "the way things are done around here" would be a good thing. At the level of many individual teachers and a few AAPS school buildings, that is indeed true. But for the system as a whole, I disagree very strongly. I think AAPS needs a strong and dedicated outsider to question SOME of the habits and the consistent lack-of-procedures that have built up, particularly in the central office and building administration. I think that AAPS will need a strong and calm outsider to guide the process of resetting attendance boundaries and closing several buildings. Anyone local will be accused, possibly even with merit, of favoring one faction over another in the controversies that are bound to arise.

Wake Up A2

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

I wonder if anyone else did a simple Google search on these two. First up is Brian. So we can see more of the same here based on this article. Gaps in achievement and monetary issues. Next Jeanice. Jeanice was passed over by Richmond and did an interesting job on harassment with no resolve.

Wake Up A2

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

So they skip Ben because of experience yet Jeanice is in the same boat. Someone who has been looking to make a name vs. someone who knows the district. Brian is going from district with the same issues to a similar one... What did Einstein say about doing things over and expecting the same results....


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Interesting. So the search firm did not make the AA BOE aware of this info prior to their recommendations? The search firm also missed a major mistake on Harris resume. Interesting, but I am afraid, our BOE will make another poor decision and the tax payers are the ones to suffer again. No - the teachers, good support staff, and students will be the ones to suffer. What a shame!

Jack Gladney

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

It's interesting that three board members felt that four of the seven candidates they chose to interview were not qualified (their words) to hold the position. It would seem that an unqualified candidate wouldn't even make it to the interview stage for the position with its given level of importance. Perhaps one would discard those four choices and review the remaining pool of fifty-four. I would be curious to hear more from the board on that. Anyway, we're now set for the episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette where the board gets to travel to meet the families. Pack your snacks and have a safe trip. I'm sorry you don't get to sample the delicious chocolate in Hershey.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

I assumed the local people were put on the final list to placate everyone in town who wanted to hire from within, and clamored about hiring locally.

Willie Reid

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

This is exactly what I was thinking. Did we really learn enough from the interviews yesterday to disqualify some of the candidates. If we were going by interviews alone, two of the interviewees yesterday had fine interviews. To me, it seems like the board made their decisions before the interviews.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Marvelous theatre. When the mainstream of the "School Bell-Shaped Curve" learns today's Math & Science & Reading & Writing & Logic sufficient to solve their next-gen problems then BOE has succeeded in choosing the right Superintendent. Until then, no amount of appeasement of "Special" interests is going to fix the core problems faced - education of the mainstream. The School Bell. Corporations like Apple and GE complain the American workers are not educated enough to fill the fewer jobs available so they go hire overseas. Or fix the immigration law to bring workers here. Corporations like Apple and GE pay fewer if any American school-supporting taxes. Globalization and Congress and Ann Arbor Retirement investors encourage them to do that. Everyone becomes a taker in a declining system of riches. Intelligent beings in the Leadership Role have the "inalienable" responsibility to society to fix that and until they do it will likely get worse for everyone. Special Interests here should reflect their true weighted "value" relative to the "Bell". The schools are a pivatal point of change and do alter cyclical traps of poverty, prejudice, healthcare, and abuse. What about human ethics in leadership? Fair economics ? Standard communications? The solution should be for AAPS leadership to rally around their survival core now - ensure that the better-than-basic MSRWL needs are met first. BOE hasn't done that yet and likely won't until the new SI can corral them into being a productive problem solving entity in a much more competitive world than ten years ago. Will Swift or Osborne be able to rally and improve the core? Ring the School Bell?

Lou Perry

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Don't understand in an "education rich" community we need to go to New York City or Colorado Springs to find a superintendent. If you recall former Ann Arbor Police Chief Dan Oates was prior a deputy chief responsible for Brooklyn, NY. He found Ann Arbor just too small and left to become Chief of Aurora, CO. Someone coming from the City of New York Department of Education may face the same problem – less resources (i.e., New York has a high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender). I don't know much about Colorado Springs public schools, but I do know Colorado Springs v. Ann Arbor culture is dramatically different.

Silly Sally

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Shouldn't school's be encouraging education, not other endeavors? Schools were once single sex to avoid "distractions" of the opposite sex.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Lou, did you think one of the local candidates was a better fit right now to run the district right now than the finalists chosen? Your thoughts are very relevant concerning town cultures and the size of the cities, resources, etc. I have those concerns too, but I also think that at least one and possibly both of these people can handle the big challenges we face without as steep a learning curve. I think that some of the local candidates are good potential leaders, but not right now. As Topher mentioned, districts on the East Coast that raise up leaders from within take years to do so, and spend money to make it happen. Will the community that requests "less money on administrators and administrative tasks" then be willing to fund this?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Mr. Perry - I agree, but if these were the only local people to apply (and no one beyond the board has seen the full list of 63 who applied), then I think the board made a reasonable call on their selections. I might have done it differently if an agreed to set of goals for the superintendent was done in advance. For instance if they wanted to "rip the bandage off" and do all the things that need to be done to restructure the district quickly - redistricting, administrative restructuring, fixing contracts, selling excess assets, dealing with walk zones after redistricting, dealing with specific labor issues - then I might have picked someone different who could stay two years and be gone, but with a very different setup for the next superintendent. I am not sure that one of the candidates can do the "rip the bandage off" treatment. If they are looking for a long-term superintendent, then they have to go much slower on the fixing the structural issues, and pray for more revenue in the short term. I highly doubt that the folks in Lansing are going to offer more money to the highest funded districts. I also doubt that the voters in WISD (most of Washtenaw County) are going to agree to raise taxes for an enhancement millage, and that is the only way one can be passed. Even then the teachers union is going to try to claim most of that money based on the salary freeze agreement from several years ago. That will leave AAPS looking for yet more funding. I think the best way to get more money is to lure back students that are in district but going to other schools and that starts with making changes the board has been unwilling to deal with. So if I were a local person who was good, and I knew what was happening, would I walk into this job?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

I think John Agno's comment on "growing new leaders" from within makes the most sense from a long-term perspective. I didn't see that any of the local folks would be the right fit at this point while reading the interviews over the last 2 days as well as some of the candidates other background info, and I think the BOE made the right decision not to pursue follow-up interviews with someone who was a distant 3rd. I think 'growing new leadership from within' does not mean putting someone who isn't a great fit into the SI spot now mainly because they are local, and then hoping they 'catch up.' The problems we have as a district are very challenging. I think it does mean giving increased opportunities for stepping-stone experience to a few people who are possibilities for the future.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

I think the best have already left the district, and what we have left (local candidates) were weak in many areas. Someone like this may eventually get the job, and we can watch AAPS self destruct like neighboring districts. There is one person, an administrator in the district, who might be a great candidate, if the district can retain him long enough!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

@DonBee - I agree with you completely here. It requires a lot of time, talent, and investment on the part of the district. "Growing new leaders" (not only superintendents, but also principals, assistant principals, and teachers in positions of leadership) requires a solid infrastructure. Imagine if we applied the same structure that you outline below to teachers - we'd have even stronger teachers, schools, and consequently our students would benefit. There used to be mentoring at the teacher level, but with cuts that is gone.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

i don't know if being head principal of a large high school is a stepping stone. but we managed to fill it from outside. that ensures our best people will leave the district.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Thanks DonBee,I appreciate the outline of what this process entails.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Kuriooo and Topher - Dr. Roberts promised to mentor people to move up. It did not happen. The district has promised over and over again to mentor people to move up. It never happens. I don't see either of the candidates that remain as strong mentors. If you want to grow leaders from within there is a lot that has to be in place. Most of it AAPS does not have. To make a mentoring and leadership growth program work you have to: 1) Identify the best candidates early 2) Put harder goals in front of them constantly, they need to struggle a bit so they understand that part of the job and others 3) Both formal and informal mentors need to be identified and assigned 4) Written evaluations need to be done routinely and feedback given 5) The program needs to weed out candidates who are not making it 6) Stepping stone jobs need to be identified and candidates rotated through those jobs, that means a great office professional to support each of those jobs and help train the candidates 7) Salaries need to reflect the capabilities of the individual, so that there are real measurable rewards for success. Using a time in grade salary structure or a title based salary structure encourages the best to leave and find a place where they can see the rewards. To do this would be very difficult with the way AAPS runs today and the labor contracts that are in place. Not just the salaries, but getting people to be mentors, and rotating people through jobs and setting up hard goals, and... If you want to grow leaders they need an environment that is structured to grow them.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

I love the idea of growing leaders from within - the reality is that this costs money. When you look at high quality public school districts on the east coast, you'll find districts that pay for teachers' administrative master's, districts that provide training and support, and districts that spend years training their leadership. This requires commitment from both the district as well as teachers/leadership.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

Many people in this community believe that the smartest people are from someplace else - like Pennsylvania, Colorado or New Jersey. What's the point of having a national search and then picking someone already in Michigan. The out-of-town people came in over the weekend - they probably got the grand tour of the city, dinners, and a house hunting expedition. For local candidates it was a one-day event.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

If there are other reassuring examples of Osborne, it certainly would lessen my concern. It's the unknown that bothers me. This district needs good stuff to happen- soon. Crossing the t's and dotting the I's will reassure many parents, as well as the BOE, that we are getting the best possible candidate for the position. The first thing I found about him when the six were first named was regarding his donation of his raise unprompted to the educational foundation. That's the good stuff we need- lead by example.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Since you enjoy following my comments Mr. Queso, you may note that I initially favored Osborne and Swift, pre-interviews. I still do, but I would like to see due diligence by the BOE in looking at these candidates. This district doesn't need something overlooked because we will be kind of stuck after the fact. Some people on the forums find other information that they share and can educate the rest of us. I'd rather see the BOE take some time and find out their potential issues, so they aren't blindsided. It was already discovered that Harris had an inaccurate résumé, used four year old recommendations, and one of the forums had a comment that she was asked to leave her former district. All valid information that could have disqualified her as a candidate worthy of interviewing. Of course if you want to pretend that there is no possibility of a problem, then I wouldn't concern yourself.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

TTBO, it appears that you are attempting to stir the pot based upon the comments of one parent. You wouldn't make such a broad generalization with pitbulls why do it with a candidate?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Thanks for the link, aamom.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Trying to be Objective, for more of his community's thoughts on their schools and Osborne, check out OR


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

Swift said she came in two days early at her own expense to get a feel for the city. I am concerned about a remark about Osborne from a current parent in his district on another post. It's just one comment, but I wonder how many others there are?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

A lot of times a perspective from outside the group think is a good thing...................


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:04 a.m.

In these little clips, jhe majority of what these people said sounded precisely like beginner's interview speak, the same sentences you hear over and over when interviewing applicants, and for low-level positions at that. Henry Hastings stands out only because he wasn't using the same words, but none of these people gave off an air of competence, confidence, success, or experience. Maybe it was nerves talking to a camera as opposed to a person. How are the school districts doing at these other districts the applicants are managing (Swift)? Was anyone asked what they think thye might do differently, given what they know, right off the bat? Or what they saw as the 3 biggest problems, given what they know, that the district faces now?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Unfortunately, you are correct. I have zero faith that our BOE knows a good candidate from a mediocre candidate. I have zero faith that they can or will make the right choice. This will leave our school system with poor leadership again, in this position. We all know that the AA BOE has not given us any leadership. In fact, they don't even like each other, nor can they work together for the common good of our school system.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11 a.m.

Our local candidate, Edmondson, is terrific, just not yet. Please, AAPS, offer him a steppingstone position so we keep him! Otherwise, some other district will snag him, knowing the potential is there.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

agree J.A., some of the things I have heard from teachers in the district would shock people. I still wish we could find an AAPS employee to be Super, but right now we are lacking with qualified candidates. I think someone like Kevin Karr and/or Gary Court could make good candidates if they were prepped for job.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

You do not really know him, it would be embarrassing to have him as the superintendent of AAPS. Some teachers know a lot more about him than the general public, or parents who like him.

John Agno

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

To end the merry-go-round of Ann Arbor Superintendents, the board needs to grow new leaders from within. Today, would be a very good time to stop recruiting from outside; that only results in keeping superintendents for a few years before they retire or move on to larger city school districts.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

John, sorry to say, but as a district employee, there are NO qualified candidates from within!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11 p.m.

RIDICULOUS! Hiring from within leads to doing the same thing we have ALWAYS done Outside people provide new a unique perspectives to issues that people who have not worked elsewhere no nothing about. When the UM was looking for a football coach in 1968, they did not say, let's only look at current members of the staff. The searched outside of that and got Bo Schembelchler. IF Patricia Green had a successful tenure and things were going great, THEN you groom somebody to take the position (like Stave Jobs did or Tim Cook)

Wake Up A2

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

Well what do you know, Picked folks from day one.... Let this be a lesson to however is filing for a job in this district....If you are not day one, stay home. Sad day all the way around. Both seem to have a laid back attitude which means the school board will control them.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

You are correct that the AA BOE will pick the candidate that they can control.