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Posted on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Ann Arbor superintendent search: School board deliberates on next district leader

By Danielle Arndt


The board will choose between Jeanice Kerr Swift of Colorado, left, and Brian Osborne of New Jersey for the district's next superintendent. file photos

UPDATE: Ann Arbor school board votes to offer Brian Osborne superintendency

Previous coverage:

The Ann Arbor Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. Friday to select a new leader of the Ann Arbor Public Schools district, and is covering it live.

The board spent nearly two full days with finalists Brian Osborne of New Jersey and and Jeanice Kerr Swift of Colorado, asking them questions, showing them around the schools and most notably, watching them interact with staff, parents and community members.

Swift was in town Tuesday and Osborne Wednesday for their final board interviews to present their 90-day entry plans and to answer questions from a variety of community stakeholders.

Selecting between the two candidates, both of whom have been praised by board members and the public, will not be easy work, said Board President Deb Mexicotte. She stressed in previous conversations it will come down to fit, as both are highly qualified.

While choosing a new superintendent is the primary order of business at Friday's meeting, there are a few other items on the agenda: calling back at least 60 laid-off teachers and amending the employment contract for Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services David Comsa to allow him to serve as the district's interim superintendent, until the newly named superintendent can assume the role.

The meeting will be underway shortly. Follow along as the discussion unfolds below.

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



Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 4:53 a.m.

I would love to see a contract with 1 or 2 performance metrics, and only 1 or 2. Metrics that can be measured and reported to the public. I would love to see the contract closer to $180,000 in year 1 and an annual bonus for making it though each year - not added to the base, but as a pure annual bonus. Say $10,000 for finishing year 1 and $15,000 for year 2 and $20,000 for year 3. Bonus is paid on 1 January of the year, if the superintendent is still employed at AAPS. Also I would love to see the ability written into the contract that the district can walk away from the contract with 180 days notice and no penalties. Now the big question can the BOE agree to 3 to 5 measurable goals for Dr. Osborne or will they create another laundry list of priorities? To the teachers recalled - thank you for living through this mess, and welcome back. To the teachers not recalled, may that happen as quickly as possible. To Ms. Arndt - thank you again, and the weekly adjustment to Ms. Comsa is on TOP of his current salary, so on your 40 hour week, that is an extra $19 an hour.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

I suppose it goes without saying that this is a catered affair.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

"My fault, I'm not perfect. Add that to the recall," Susan said. Wow. "Susan" really ought to learn how to conduct herself in the public realm. While the recall may not necessarily have any merit, they are still district parents and her haughty attitude towards her constituents* is very off-putting. *constituents who are not in court proceedings

Ruth Kraut

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Danielle, I don't really understand the part about his board offering him $1,001 over his current salary. Because New Jersey is just about to implement a salary cap for superintendents and it is my understanding that his salary will be cut to $167,000. I got that from the Maplewood Online discussions. Can you confirm?


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 4:45 a.m.

Ms, Kraut is correct, Dr. Osborne cannot make more than the state mandated amount once the law kicks in. So while Dr. Osborne might make more this year in New Jersey, he can't in 2014 - unless he finds a 1000 or so more students - he can't get to $200,000 in his current district after the law takes effect.

Ruth Kraut

Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

No superintendent in NJ is exempt. I'll await what you find out.

Danielle Arndt

Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Hi Ruth, there is a salary cap for supers that is coming down the pipe in NJ — I read that too, at least — but the board did recently offer him $1,001 over what AAPS was offering, per AAPS board members. I don't know the timeline of events and can't speak to when this happened. I plan to ask tonight and get clarification, however. Perhaps something about the timing of his raise makes him exempt? Not sure if there is some type of grandfather clause or something? That's just me speculating. I don't know much about it yet.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

7:07 p.m.: Lightfoot is worried Mexicotte will promise Osborn too much reward and be the desperate hags hoping for a Prince Superintendent to just say yes. 7:08 p.m.: Patalan -- hey if you love the guy, give him the top salary. We are desperate here in Ann Arbor. Next it will be like that famous Oprah show where everyone in the studio audience found car keys under their chair. The district is in a financial crisis. They will set up this superintendent for misery by offering too much too soon. Does he want the job enough to start at a lower salary point and then earn the rest? That is what he said in his public presentation. Maybe this is staged and the board plans to offer him more and he will refuse?


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

I am glad they voted, but think the type of discussion that preceded the 7-0 vote, is crossing the line into personal feelings along with bringing up points of concern or support for Osborne. No one compared and contrasted Osborne to Swift. Then there was a tiff between two board members, and a third board member, Lightfoot, was willing to put her concerns aside and vote with the team. If the details of Osborn's contract can get worked out, and he accepts the job, along with all the other difficult problems facing the district, I hope he can help the board accept professional help to be more effective and efficient at meetings.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

The live blog is great. It really shows how the board communicates more like a family having a meeting to discuss problems or an informal family therapy session really. Why couldn't they just vote at 6:10? Now we know Baskett didn't send Thomas the complete documents that she sent everyone else and there is a conflict, hard feelings on both sides. Mom Mexicotte says she isn't pleased either. Baskett says, oh sorry everyone, I'm not perfect. This almost reads like a skit on SNL with angry teens and a groovy mom trying to get everyone to get along and pick a movie. The problem is these are elected officials and are picking a superintendent for the district. Why is all this processing-your-thoughts discussion necessary? How is it constructive? How is it effective leadership?

Samantha D.

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Amazing they all agreed and they made the choice that many in the community supported. Whew! On to the next problem.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

Oh my gosh, it is just so distressing to see how dysfunctional this board is. I've been loving the live-blogging you and Kellie did, but now I'm almost wishing this were a closed session.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

I am not sure if adjunct faculty being discussed is what is described here. But here is a link as it relates to an instructional position, not research:


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

No wonder these meetings go so long, do the vote and be done with it. The BOE has met the candidates, spoken with them, questioned them and has had time to think about. This should be a quick vote with very little explaining needed. Lightfoot is holding this up because she wants Edmonson and her comment at 6:05 of blog shows that pretty clearly (as well as her desire to have him as a finalist even though he was 4th in overall voting in original interviews). The recent poll shows that Osborne should be the guy, get it done and move on. I know we shouldn't take poll to seriously, but the poll also showed that people voted neither candidate over Swift, what does that say?