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Posted on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:49 a.m.

School board interviews superintendent candidates for Ann Arbor Public Schools

By Kellie Woodhouse

Interviews with the six candidates for the next superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools will begin at 10 a.m. Monday and will be covering it live.

The two-day process to find Patricia Green's replacement is being held at the Courtyard Marriott at 3205 Boardwalk Boulevard in Ann Arbor.

Green's retirement is effective Tuesday. She served two years in the position.

The Board of Education finalized a list of questions for the six candidates last week and will interview three candidates Monday and three on Tuesday.

The candidates are:

  • Jeanice Kerr Swift, assistant superintendent of Colorado Springs District 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Brian Osborne, superintendent of South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey
  • Richard Faidley, superintendent of Derry Township Schools in Hershey, Pa.
  • Henry Hastings, instructor at Eastern Michigan University College of Business
  • Sandra Harris, retired superintendent of Oak Park School District in Oak Park
  • Benjamin Edmondson, principal of Roberto Clemente High School in Ann Arbor

Related: Read the bios of all six candidates
Swift, Osborne and Faidley will be interviewed Monday and the remaining three will be interviewed Tuesday beginning at 8 a.m. After the interviews are complete, the board will narrow the list of finalists to two or three choices. Board members plan to visit the finalists' districts July 10-13.



Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Can't wait to see them goof this one as well. Better be cheap and better be ready to shut down Balas from the ground running. Although ousting this BOE wouldn't be bad either.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

Oops. Links for my comment above:


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:39 a.m.

Please take Osborne. Pretty please. Really tired of having the teachers working without a contract for two or three years, which is now treated as a feature, not a bug. Also the brilliance of getting rid of the professional Special Ed staff and replacing them with an employment agency that couldn't deliver what it promised passed all understanding, and was only compounded this year. (Hint: it didn't go well.) But he plays in the "charity" (read: fundraiser) basketball game against the Harlem Wizards, so he must be a great Social Media expert. You need Brian Osborne.

Ruth Kraut

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

Thank you Kellie! This is very helpful!

Paula Gardner

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback on this presentation from the interviews. Kellie is writing a traditional news article now, and that should be posted by early Tuesday. If you have more comments about this approach, let us know. I liked the opportunity to keep looking at it over the course of the day - I felt like I was able to check in when I had a few moments. I also liked seeing it unfold chronologically. We'll try to get photos into tomorrow's version.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

I really liked this approach because I was able to check in during several different work breaks and give feedback as time permitted. As another poster mentioned, it was a valuable way for those of us who are invested in our kids' education to be able to participate. Also, as DonBee mentioned, there were a few things edited out at the end as far as comments, but I did feel that these were interesting in the flow of the moment. It made me feel like it was as close to "sitting in on the interview" as I could get.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

Faidley seems ready to cite other reasons beyond his control for any problem that makes him look responsible or shows him in a bad light. His style seems like a worse fit for the district than Dr. Green. He does not have a good answer for why he is leaving a 4-year contract early. The BOE seems very fearful about online commenters and journalists like Danielle Arndt and Kellie Woodhouse who quote BOE members and dare to report on how they function as elected officials. What was the cost of renting a room at the Marriott to hold these interviews instead of using a meeting room at Balas or one of our high school auditoriums?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Kellie, Thank you so much for providing an invaluable service. This enables so many parents and those vested in the success of our children and community a way of feeling, not only in-touch with the process and able to comment, but a means to participate in a timely enough fashion that it could actually make a difference. It is in direct opposition to how one feels when attending a BOE meeting, budget forum, etc.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

At this point, Osborne is the most impressive - his willingness to take criticism head-on, get out into the schools, his strong financial background, fresh ideas and his stated belief that ten years is a good goal for someone to remain in this position. He has younger kids (skin in the game) and a great combination of unique experience and education to really elevate the district. Faidley seems pretty good, but his being 2 years into his 4-year contract is alarming and in speaking to the issue, he failed to calm any fears. Swift seems okay, not great and therefore not up to the task at hand.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

Ms. Woodhouse - Thank you. I appreciate your blogging. I love some of your comments, even if they do not appear in the final blog. All - I see one candidate from today worth making a finalist. I will not indicate which, since the board is worried about the impact of comments on Funny they have that worry but did not know there was a print edition which is pretty good read. Tomorrow will be interesting as well. I hope I have connectivity so I can follow the blog tomorrow, should be interesting. For those of you who were not following live you missed some great comments that were edited out of the final could read even 5 minutes later. Thank you again Ms. Woodhouse.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Kyle - None of the posts were filtered out when she was done, but she wrote a number things on the blog that are not there, such as "where have I heard that before?" in one of the blogs. I believe she self-edited. I loved the 30-45 seconds that a number of them appeared, it made the interviews real.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Hi DonBee- None of Kellie's posts were filtered out. You can see all of them by clicking the 'read more' button at the top of the live widget.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

Faidley can't be in his schools very often if he jumps jobs every 2 years.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Swift's answers at the end of her interview regarding talking to people who have concerns are weak, in my opinion, and sound like more of the same approach we had with Dr. Green. Swift won't respond to online commenting, which is fine, but I don't see that she says she will speak with reporters and instead will post information on the AAPS website. That is dodging the question. Stating information on a website fresh and new covers up the concerns raised. Swift sounds like she will be image conscious once she gets going and fragile in similar ways to Green. The impression I get from Kellie's posts is that Swift presents herself as having her plans all arranged and triple checked, but once people start questioning her or things don't go as expected, she is not as flexible and strong as a leader as this district would need. Her responses to questions about criticism and problems are different than Osborne's who seems much less fearful about the ongoing process of being tested by a community that has been burned over and over again. Osborne could just be a better interviewer though. I have zero confidence in this board to make a choice that will actually work. Nelson can whine about how commenters ask for board members to resign or step down from their positions as officers and become members at large, but Nelson doesn't address why that criticism of the BOE is common in the news. Trustee Nelson - Do you have an opinion on why commenters ask President Mexicotte to resign from being president? Can you answer this question directly or do you need to change the topic to the serious problems with state funding. Both problems are serious and true. Mexicotte is not an effective president of this board and the state funding is problematic, but the BOE has made poor decisions over and over again. What will it take for you BOE members to stop doing math on napkins at 2 a.m.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

IMO, Nelson is one of the worst. Takes forever to make a point, blathers on with anecdotes that are just a waste of time, etc.....very ineffective. Again, IMOO.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Could you clarify what Osborne meant at 2:06: "Are Ann Arbor school district's special programs -such as community and open ann arbor- separating the students by race and class because of the political currency and capital of their families"? While these 2 schools are less racially diverse than others in the district, the schools are NOT "separating students by race and class"!

Basic Bob

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

There is absolutely no way that a random lottery would result year after year in producing the highest white population in the entire district, higher than any neighborhood in the entire school district. This must be by design! There is a tremendous effort to discourage one half of the population to not apply for the lottery. Once the random drawing is performed, the racial and socioeconomic imbalance has already been achieved.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

A2anon - that busing went away for Community. sorry if that somehow offends you, but the truth is that community is accessible only to those who can manage to get there.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:39 a.m.

CLX, the AAPS buses kids from anywhere in the Ann Arbor school district, to Ann Arbor Open. They do this for the express reason that they do NOT want to bias the student population to one with more resources, as the charters do. So your post makes no sense.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

There are kids who live in Scio Farms, who walk a distance down Jackson to the nearest AATA stop at Jackson and Wagner, in order to take the AATA to Community.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Not every family can afford to take their kids to and from these schools, especially if they live at a distance that makes walking, bike riding or even the public bus impractical. So yes, it seems possible and perhaps even probable that these schools are not an option for families with fewer resources. I don't think it's crazy to question whether these schools are truly an option for all families, and whether as a community we're comfortable with that. Not stating any opinion about the latter - just think it's a fair question.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

I thought this was a very astute and relevant question. It makes sense to me that certain families will highly encourage and support attendance at one of these schools, and have the resources to make sure that it happens if a student is accepted into a slot.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

I know people in the Scarlett boundary who go to Open. Not sure which elementary they would attend.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

local- Admission to these 2 programs is by random lottery, and any student in the district can attend, including those in the Mitchell and Scarlett neighborhoods. Again, I acknowledge that they are less diverse than other schools, and personally I consider that problematic. However, the quote above makes it sound as if it is by design, which it is most certainly not.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

Acorn, are you sure about that? What makes you think that? How many socioeconomic families are at either one of these schools? Do Mitchell and Scarlet boundary students go to these schools? I think Osborne was asking a clarifying question, one that many parents probably ask as well.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

I am impressed with Osborne and his willingness to state honestly and simply the serious problems this district faces, including the failure to retain a competent superintendent. Nelson is just a continuing disappointment with his need to share his feelings about matters connected to the school. While I appreciate his time and effort trying to help the district, his style and that of of other BOE members of expressing his feelings and views, venting and asking for help has got to stop. The BOE members need to stop talking about their relations with one another. While I understand the marriage analogy Lightfoot gave and find her one of the more honest board members, it shouldn't take the presence of a superintendent who is excellent to get our elected adult board members to behave more professionally. I am impressed that Osborne seems able to stick to a topic, based on Kellie's report. He states he is willing to get out into the buildings and that he would like to plant roots. He is not afraid of commenters in an online newspaper because he states that he would be willing to give reporters an interview. As I understand it now, Liz Margolis does all the talking, like a press secretary. If Osborne's presentation via Kellie's report can prove true, it would be a hopeful change to have a leader in place who is a awake and would care about whether the district is doing the job right for students, teachers and staff. I like it that he wants to reward teachers or educators in any position in a district for getting the job done right for a student's education


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Swift has applied to be superintendent at a number of schools. She is currently an assistant SI. I also appreciate the running commentary. Swift appears thoughtful in her responses. I'm impressed. The fact that she came early speaks to her apparent inclination to be a part of the community if she is selected, not a drop-in, like Green.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

It is interesting that Nelson is concerned about turnover in this position, yet the only true constant has been the BOE itself. Maybe the problem falls with you Mr. Nelson and the rest of the BOE that has been around for a while now. Maybe all of you play a bigger role in that turnover. Mrs. Patalan, you can say no to people in this district if you want. You were elected to do a tough job, you just have to have the courage to make those tough decisions.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

I also agree with aaparent - this is fantastic to have someone blogging the interview. I think it's also a good reminder, per the discussion in the interview, that if someone has constructive criticism to add-it should be done respectfully and carries more weight with names attached. Although I can understand why some people might want to remain anonymous, criticism sometimes can be quite harsh and a bit unrealistic on this site and I think that waters down the effectiveness of potentially valid complaints.

David Myers

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

This is how you are going to sell the job? Lightfoot: "We are really the designer label place to live... you dress well I am sure you can appreciate that metaphor."


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

You think their job is to sell the position? Aren't they supposed to be evaluating the candidates?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Oops. I guess we let our arrogance slip out.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

From Kellie's post: "Lightfoot: "We are really the designer label place to live... you dress well I am sure you can appreciate that metaphor." "You dress well?" Really, Ms. Lightfoot? You base your evaluation on someone's fashion acumen?


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

@donderop How can you conclude that she "based her evaluation" on her fashion sense? Thats an unwarranted charge. Obviously, she simply noted it and used an analogy riffing off of that to characterize the city.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

donderop - There were several more during the day. I got some real chuckles out of some of the blog posts that were deleted at the editing stage. Each board member reinforced my views on them as individuals.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Having been there I think she was just saying this as an aside. It didn't carry that much weight, from what I could tell. Lightfoot was just talking about what a great place A2 is.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

@Kellie and thank you for this live coverage and Kellie's comments are helpful. WIll the interviews be shown at a later date on Community Access TV? This is a great community service to have Kellie add after hearing a few rounds of questions that Swift is supplying a value statement or belief first and then answering the board members' questions. If Swift has been so successful at her current district, why is she leaving? Will any BOE member ask that kind of tough question, one the DonBee suggested should be asked of every single applicant? It is a different question than why a candidate wants to work as the AAPS superintendent. For the salary of the job, that alone makes the position appealing. This district has gone through a high number of superintendents in a short time. Asking a candidate if she can deal with criticism is a pretty meaningless question. What candidate interested in a job would say that she/he could not handle it well?