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Posted on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor superintendent search: Finalist Brian Osborne presents 90-day plan

By Danielle Arndt

Previous coverage:

The Ann Arbor Board of Education is interviewing the second of two finalists for the district's vacant superintendent position Wednesday afternoon, and is covering it live.


Brian Osborne

Brian Osborne, a superintendent from New Jersey, is presenting his 90-day plan to the school board, which then plans to decide between him and fellow finalist Jeanice Kerr Swift, of Colorado Springs, at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

Swift had her site visit Tuesday.

At 1:15 p.m. in the Skyline High School Media Center, Osborne will lay out his plan for his first three months as superintendent, if hired. He'll also answer questions from the school board. The meeting is open to the public.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, members of the public will get a chance to question Osborne in a second public meeting. also will be live blogging from this event at Skyline High School.

Read the recap of Osborne's interview and 90-day presentation in the live blog below. Download a copy of his 90-day powerpoint.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Danielle Arndt

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

To respond to some of the inquiries from readers about a particular comment. The comment, the comments in that feed and related comments have been blocked. We cannot verify any of that information. I also would like just to add that no contract exists or is even in the works with either of the superintendent candidates and won't be until one candidate or the other is offered the position, which is expected to take place on Friday. Once this happens, contract discussions will begin, including discussions about start dates. If a candidate has a particular conflict and can't start until later in the school year, that is not known at this time. It was the board's goal to have a new superintendent in place by the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year. However, the board has acknowledged that that still is to be determined and that an interim superintendent may need to be in place for longer. The board discussed this when it selected an interim superintendent and said it would revisit the interim superintendent position if the case became that the new superintendent could not start right away. Just another note, it is not wholly uncommon for superintendents to start in a new district in the middle of a school year to appropriately transition their previous district. I can't say that that would be the case if Osborne is hired and perhaps should not have provided my observation/speculation in the live blog without asking him this such question, but I can say for a fact that no such 90-day clause exists at this point.

West Side Mom

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3 a.m.

BTW, great jog on blogging the interviews!

West Side Mom

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3 a.m.

Danielle, I think your observation was fair, so IMHO you were not wrong to air it. Dr. Osborne was careful in his comments and avoided creating any expectation that he could be here in month. I'm okay with that. He doesn't have a job offer yet. No telling how long contract negotiations could take. Why up the stakes by unnecessarily raising expectations about a start date. We either want him enough that we will reach an agreement on a start date, even if it's after the start of the school year, or we won't and we will move on. I've been skeptical of the board's desire/promise to have someone on board by the start of school. These things often taken longer than we think and artificial deadlines need to yield.

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

I must admit, I love his idea of visiting the schools as a full day of really getting to know specific schools. It seems that Green knew of the "elite" schools, but knew very little related to most district buildings. I have never had a superintendent visit other than a quick walk around with the principal, and this is meant as a way to be seen, or say they visited every school. A visit such the kind he has shared would be amazing, at least from the perspective of this teacher!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

I think someone needs to clear the air on Ms. Harris' accusations. It is important for the community to know if this is true or not. If it is true, then maybe the board should go back to the list of people and pull some more to interview. If it is not true, then I would like to see an apology to Dr. Osborne from Ms. Harris and anyone else who is spreading this information. Right now there is no public basis for Ms. Harris' comments.

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

Tryingtobeobjective, we've blocked the other comment you referenced as well. Thanks for alerting us and as I said in my other comment, none of that information has been verified.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

I feel really uneasy that Harris would post that from a reader comment section with no verified source from the reader. Harris made it sound to me that it was posted by staff; call me crazy, but I do have some trust in those guys. Thanks to "Trying" for finding that distinction!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

DonBee, I found the comment she referred to. It's under the article about Swift and zero based budgeting. See "True to Blues" comment, near the end. Ironically, True to Blue also says "it has been shared that Osbornes kids...." So essentially it is someone else passing along heresay with no source. I'm going to keep looking to see if I can find where it started.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

I've skimmed through various comments and can see nothing to back Ms. Harris' comments so far. I do see her name associated with Dr. Edmondson and his bid. As a Scarlett parent, I vote "no" on that. She says they are previously posted at, so "show me the money".

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Oh, I almost forgot. I added a downloadable version of Osborne's 90-day plan powerpoint presentation to this story.

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

Not going to lie, I'm kind of digging the live blogging, too. It's kind of fun! Anyway, I'd love to hear from more readers who've followed along both days ... what are your impressions so far of the candidates? Who do you think would be a better fit for Ann Arbor? Pros and cons of each? Any questions I should try to ask Osborne tonight?

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Chester, haha, I can't get away from proper punctuation and spelling out complete words. You should see my text messages! My poor family, I send them novels because I refuse to give in to the usual abbreviations. Just a little old school I guess! ;-) ... (That same sentiment does not apply to emoticons, however. I tend to over-smiley :) But thanks for your comment and glad you like the blog format.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

I haven't followed this story for several weeks, so forgive me if it has been asked. 1. Why Michigan? 2. How long at your last job? 3. What are your future career goals? Whatever questions would deal with stopping this revolving door....

Chester Drawers

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

You did a great job, Danielle, as did Kellie in the first round. This is a great format for those of us who had to work (although it could be argued that I wasn't really working!). I had to laugh, though, when you first started out. You were using English teacher-like grammar and punctuation; quotation marks, for crying out loud! I was thinking, that poor girl's head is going to explode if she keeps this up. Thanks for a yeoman's effort on the behalf of your readers.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

And maybe ask him how the district can find, improve, or get rid of poor teachers. I think most of the teachers do pretty-well, but the district doesn't seem to get rid of the few bad ones.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

Ask him if he thinks that students of all levels should share the same classroom or whether students that either excel or are struggling in a subject should be placed with others at the same skill level.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Thank you Danielle and for doing the live blog. This is a great community service for people who would like to be at the meeting but cannot. Osborne seems like a much stronger candidate to me so far than Swift. If I could attend, I would ask him how he responds to tasks once the new honeymoon phase is over. It seems like that is a burnout point for the past superintendents. After the initial enthusiasm, the years of dysfunction wears away. He seems sturdy and smart so far. Renaming the "cabinet" the "senior leadership team" is a great idea. He can set expectations for his senior leaders and so far he seems less flappable and less vulnerable to drama. His superintendent court system is a good idea. I would like to know how the kids he helped fared after the hearing. I think it's a huge plus that he wants to help the board work on governance and understands that the board historically has gotten in the way of a lot of progress. If he got out into the buildings and ate in school cafeterias, that would be a good change and on many levels help a lot with the low morale in the district.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Wow ... THIS was a 90 day plan, with detail, specifics, etc. It blew the generic, wordy, nonspecific, no detail "list" of Ms Kerr Swift out of the water, IMO. It seems clear to me that Dr. Osbourne should be the obvious selection.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

I sure hope so!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

I'd say we have a very strong candidate here! I'm looking forward to following tonight's session.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

It is very encouraging that he is more focused on a plan for action or a strategy. When a board member starts asking broader questions, he can stay on track. I like that he highlights tactfully that the board needs professional guidance to function more effectively vs. the board members need to learn how to get along with each other.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

He seems very on-track to me. He gets directly to the matter without beating around the bush or speaking in generalities. I like that.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

Colorado? New Jersey? Is there nobody born and bred in SE Michigan, somebody who long has their heart and soul firmly and already planted here?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

i too thought they were going to hire someone from Michigan not someone from out east. I am not happy to hear they are finding someone who I do agree with you on this point, born and bred in Michigan. Sorry AAPS but there were a few of us who wanted someone who had the pulse on the parents. Not the pulse on some NJ parents. I don't agree with the BOE. But I do agree Balas needs to be reigned in.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

I'm not suggesting that they come from within AAPS, Stephen. There are many school districts in the general vicinity. The last time around, we had somebody "not from around here" to begin with, and that never really changed. The heart was just not here.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

no one in the upper management of the system is suitable. there may be some very good future candidates at the principal level but they are being held back by the peter principle logjam in the central office.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

There has been a great deal of discussion about this over the past month or so, Kate, and the consensus seems to be that there was not such a candidate.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Dysfunctional organizations should not promote from within. Apparently no one of sufficient quality applied to make it to the final round. AAPS, especially Ballas, needs radical cultural change!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

He is correct that zero based budgeting only needs to be done once every few years, and starting with the current year would be ideal.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

His proposed use of "management by walking around" in his 90 day plan shows indications of excellent management style. His outline of his priorities and methods in his 90 day plan so far appears to be excellent. We'll see how the Q&A goes now.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

I'm loving the Live Blog - Thanks Danielle!

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

We're glad you are enjoying it. We thought it was a good way to keep readers as up to date as possible on the superintendent selection process. We'll continue to look for live-blog opportunities that make sense. Feel free to send us your suggestions.