Ann Arbor superintendent job to be offered to Jeanice Kerr Swift after split vote
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
- Updated article: New Ann Arbor superintendent 'thrilled' to accept job offer from school board
- Related: Superintendent search live blog: Ann Arbor school board to determine next step
The Ann Arbor school board voted 4-3 Wednesday evening to offer the job of superintendent to Jeanice Kerr Swift.
The offer is contingent upon reaching a satisfactory contract with her. Board President Deb Mexicotte was authorized to negotiate with Swift on behalf of the board.
Swift is the assistant superintendent of instruction, curriculum and student services for Colorado Springs School District 11. Swift was one of two finalists before the board decided July 19 to offer the job to Brian Osborne, superintendent of South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey. Osborne turned down the district's offer over the weekend.
Wednesday's meeting was called for the sole purpose of discussing next steps in the district's superintendent search. The search began in April when former Superintendent Patricia Green tendered her resignation.
At that time, the board decided to conduct a quick national superintendent search, as long as there were good candidates available, that would yield a new top official by the start of school to lead the district through what is expected to be a challenging year, with some unpopular changes coming down the pike.
With that in mind, Mexicotte and trustees Irene Patalan, Andy Thomas and Glenn Nelson voted to offer the job to Swift. Trustees Susan Baskett, Christine Stead and Simone Lightfoot voted against it.
After the vote, the board discussed how to show support for Swift despite the split vote but decided against any additional motions. Nelson said trustees will vote again to hire Swift officially after a contract is negotiated and brought back before the board for consideration.
Lightfoot and Baskett stressed the board does not have a history of not supporting its superintendents. Both were quick to state they would welcome Swift and encourage and guide her, should Swift decide to take the position.
Lightfoot, Baskett and Stead advocated abandoning the board's original thoughts regarding a quick timeframe in favor of finding the absolute best-fit candidate. They wanted to keep an interim superintendent in place for a year and to conduct a fresh search at a later date. They expressed concerns about a community that saw Osborne as a clearly superior candidate and concerns about Swift's lack of financial acumen.
Trustees in favor of Swift highlighted her motivation and enthusiasm, her ability to make tough choices in light of budget constraints at her current school district and her experience in closing school buildings, leading a zero-based budgeting project, being a transparent and visible leader and engaging the community.