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Posted on Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Replacing Patricia Green: Ann Arbor could get free superintendent search under guarantee from last one

By Danielle Arndt

The Ann Arbor Board of Education may be able to conduct its next superintendent search free-of-charge through the same firm that helped the district hire Patricia Green.


Ann Arbor school board President Deb Mexicotte and Superintendent Patricia Green listen to public comment during a 2012 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

Green submitted a letter of resignation early Thursday expressing her intent to retire 90 days from Wednesday, or July 9.

The superintendent was hired in March 2011 after a yearlong search aided by Iowa-based consulting firm Ray & Associates. The Board of Education entered into an agreement for superintendent search services with Ray & Associates in October 2010.

The board paid the company a base fee of $21,000 to conduct a national search for the next superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, after then-Superintendent Todd Roberts left to take a job in North Carolina.

The total cost of Ray & Associates' services was not immediately available Friday. The initial estimate given to the board was $21,000 to $24,500.

A satisfaction guarantee built into the contract could mean the Ann Arbor Public Schools is eligible for a do-over. The guarantee reads:

If the School District is dissatisfied with the Superintendent within two years from the date of employment of the superintendent, or if either party dissolves that relationship by resignation, retirement, or termination within a two year period of the initial employment the firm of Ray & Associates will conduct a new superintendent search at no cost to the School District, except for reasonable expenses.

Ann Arbor Superintendent Resigns

Previous Coverage:

President Deb Mexicotte said the school board has asked David Comsa, the district's legal counsel and deputy superintendent, to look into the matter and to review the contract.

"We believe we are within the guarantee time frame," Mexicotte said. She added, however, there might be some disagreement in how the two-year time frame is measured.

The Ann Arbor board voted in favor of hiring Green at a special meeting on March 5, 2011. Green's contract was entered into and signed on March 30, 2011, which based on this date the school board would be beyond the two-year guarantee. However, Green's first day of employment with the district was July 1, 2011.

"So we're not entirely sure yet on this," Mexicotte said. "… If we're right, this could be an option (conducting another search through the same firm). We'll know by the time we (meet to) discuss it next week."

The board will convene a meeting next week sometime to being strategizing about how to proceed with finding a new superintendent. The board might chose to use a scheduled study session at 5:30 p.m. April 17 at Huron High School to discuss Green's resignation, Mexicotte said. But an exact date had not been set as of Friday.

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



Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

No No No No! Do not repeat the last travesty! Do something different and bring in someone specifically to fix the financial situation.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

Einstein's definition of insanity: Repeat doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

Seriously, folks, do you really need the superintendent position ? Just eliminate it and staff and have the Board assume the responsibilities that are most likely outdated, anyways. Maybe there are some other positions that will show up as featherbedding, too. Do you really need a fireman and a stoker on a diesel train locomotive ?

Laura J

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

I am sure that somehow the guarantee will be voided because of PG's resignation date or her hire date. Why would we want them to do another search anyway?? First time, shame on you. Second time, shame on me!

Rob Pollard

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

The top comment by Blerg notes that "we're tired of those with no ties to our community quitting after a few years" and then mentions Birmingham as another school district that retain superintendents for "decades." Coincidentally, Birmingham's supt recently left after 4 years to go from BPS to a bigger school district in Illinois, Also, Plymouth-Canton (a school district of a similar size to AAPS) chose it's latest supt literally a month ago (and I believe that's their 3rd in 4 years, counting the long-tem interim person). Other large school districts have supt who have been there 7 years (Utica), 6 years (Kzoo) and 5 years (Dearborn). I won't even mention Detroit. I agree Green's tenure of barely 2 years is way too short. But I think a fact of life in this increasingly high-pressure, high-stakes world of education, it's going to be uncommon to have supt's in the job for more than 5-7 years. "Decades" is not a likely outcome.

Elijah Shalis

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

They should try to find someone that will live in ann arbor and move here and also have a doctorate. The principal of Huron High has more qualifications than Patricia Green had.

Scott Reed

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

The country needs more people trained in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering, mathematics. Instead of hiring a "professional administrator", we should hire a competent local person with a technical background. I'll bet this would be an effective way of improving our schools and increasing the technical competency of our students. And I'll also bet we can offer a much more reasonable salary - say low six figures - because we won't need to pay for an expensive mercenary administrator.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

The biggest problems with the departing administration and the present school board have been communication and transparency. Remedy this by having an open hiring process that includes a committee of parents, principals, balas administrators, teachers, students, and school board members. Each group gets one vote, regardless of the number of people in each group. That's six votes from very different stakeholders, four of which understand Ann Arbor schools, its needs, and operations better than the current school board and administration. Nothing less will be genuine community involvement.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

It's like those cruise ships: you don't like your vacation experience? How about we give you 10% discount if you sign up for our next vacation?

West Side Mom

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Based on her resignation letter, Green will leave the district as of July 9, 2013, another date that falls outside the two-year guarantee. Why didn't Green time her resignation so that there would be less of question as to whether the guaranty has been triggered? Even June 30th, a date that could have made administrative sense, would have been better than the July 9th date we may be stuck with now. The guaranty is wording is muddy at best. If the search firm is not willing to honor it, the BoE should cut its losses and move on. The amount at stake doesn't justify the cost of a lawsuit.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

I don't care when she *wants* to leave. They should take her keys and send her packing first thing on Monday morning. Don't let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

A search firm is unnecessary. Interview the top candidates within the existing AAPS system and select the best. Do not offer a contract, just the compensation. The new person should serve at the discretion of the AAPS board. If an acceptable new candidate cannot be found within the system then simply appoint the best of the bunch as interim. The next AAPS board, hopefully all new people, can then monitor the situation and create an effective management development program.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

If Green is "still under warranty" and an Iowa search firm owes us a free search, fine, but, otherwise, here are two questions/suggestions: (1) before we cut current staff salaries yet again or cut teaching or support staff positions, can we move someone from Balas who is qualified into that position and dissolve their current position? Talk about a savings! And who better understands the community and the nuances of our district than someone who is already immersed in it on the inside? And (2) If we are screwed by the Iowa firm and have to start over and use another search firm, aren't there search firms in Michigan, somewhere in this great state so at least we're contributing to the state economy?


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

The damage this search firm did to the school children of Ann Arbor is not measureable in dollars and cents....please do not go back to the well that served the poison Hemlock. This search firm should be blacklisted. The job they did was priceless!

Angry Moderate

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

The BOE should be blacklisted too,


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Of course you do realize that the search firm did not actually pick "the finalist", right? You have the BOE to thank for that.

Dog Guy

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Consulting firm Ray & Associates: FREE . . . and worth every penny !


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

The cost to hire a new Superintendent is greater than the direct cost of a consultant if it is not done well and the frequent turnover recently experienced is sustained. There is the intangible but high cost to the AAPS organiztion, the community and its young people of setting off in one direction and then having a leadership vacuum and then pursing a different direction. Consultants who are not from the community are not likely to produce a good result if they search nationwide. Consultants can easily fail to understand the job needs and recommend a canddiate that doesn't fit them. Local knowledge possessed by a Superintendent is extremely important because of the special features of the AAPS programs and its challenges. Because being able to reasonably predict revenue is so important, knowledge of the State budget process and its politics is very critical and a hands on approach is needed. There is a tendency to select an interim superindendent but that should be resisted, except for the time needed for candidate search and selection. The AAPS organization and our young people deserve stable, dedicated and of course the correct leadership. The next Superindendent should be a "hands-on" leader" with has proven outstanding business manager skills. The benefits of having a leader committed to the long term are obvious, that is an absolute criteria. The next Superindendent should be such a strong leader, they can successfully overcome the tendencies of the Board and the Community to micro-manage. A long term(five years rolling) educational and business plan is needed (not year to year). Candidates should give their vision of what that would entail.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

LOCAL search please! Choose from within! Choose someone who lives here, is dedicated to and knows our community well!

PC Stone

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

There are administrators who move from area to area, state to state in order to work while simultaneously earning additional long term benefits from each area. It can be quite lucrative. This doesn't mean they are not effective at each stop but gaming the system does not seem appropriate. I agree with the others who post looking for some local talent. Many qualified people with more skin in the game, so to speak.

Steve Bean

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

"There are administrators who move from area to area…" Name three. "Many qualified people with more skin in the game, so to speak." Like a spouse who works in the community and children who attend the schools, you mean? So they can experience the joys of the "community" bad-mouthing their partner/parent for a decade or more? That's what you and others are advocating?


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

By all means, we need to change our approach in finding a new superintendent. This should include a local search, as much as national search. Can you imagine if Ray & Associates does not work in good faith with our school district. Their reputation has already been tainted with referring a superintendent who actually worked for us only 24 months (She is officially leaving this upcoming July, thus the 24 months). Can you imagine how much more damage they will do to their national reputation if they don't assist, free of charge. And that's assuming we want their help.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Make sure it's a 5 day work week and they have to live within 20 mile radius preferably in the same county.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

It is a 7 day job, and the person needs to be engaged in the community.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

Given how well things worked out the last time, I don't see why anyone would give this search firm a second chance... even if it is for free.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

Same for the BOE.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

Hmmmm. $24K for a superintendent who stayed 2 yrs. We will help with another, hmmmm. Look from within.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Using your higher math skills, that's $12K per year.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

we will help with another search for "reasonable expenses" thanks

Jack Gladney

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

...But wait! There s more! If you are not 100 percent satisfied with your new superintendent, just send it back and we'll replace it absolutely free! (Replacement superintendent must be of equal or lesser value, less shipping and handling charges. Offer not valid in Alaska and Hawaii)


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

The search firm did a really good job, didn't they. Can't we find a qualified person within the organization or at least locally?

Steve Hendel

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

I agree, Blerg; if people are interested in the reason for Ann Arbor's inability to recruit AND RETAIN good Superintendents of Schools, they should look at who is doing the hiring in the first place, i.e. the Board of Education.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:08 a.m.

Can the board please listen to the voices of the community and tell the firm to make this a LOCAL search. There is ample talent in the state of Michigan, and we're tired of those with no ties to our community quitting after a few years. And enough hot air about Ann Arbor being a demanding community. We're no more difficult than Birmingham, and that district, along with a number of other high performing districts in metro Detroit, retain superintendents for decades.