May 07, 2014 - Goodrich-In a special meeting on Monday night, the school board voted 5-0 to retain the services of Michigan Leadership Institute to begin the search for a new superintendent following the resignation of Scott Bogner last week. Jeff Gardner, board vice president, and Chip Schultz, treasurer, were absent.
Bogner had been district superintendent since June 2012 and had been in public education for more than 30 years. His last day will be June 30.
"I'm a little torn, I really don't want to pay for this service again," said David Cramer, board president. "However, MLI did a real great job of getting all the information together."
In 2012 the district paid $6,700 for MLI services. A total of 31 candidates applied for the district superintendent position.
The district can cut $1,500 off the search fee if they use the same superintendent profile.
"The profile has not changed since 2012," he said. "One of our greatest concerns is the timing in the school year to find a superintendent. I don't want to be rushed into anything, if we are not satisfied with the results of the search then we'll regroup and try again later in the school year. If no one wows us will wait until January to continue the search. We are not going to settle."
Tim Edwards, MLI regional president for East Central Michigan, spoke to the board via conference call on Monday night.
"This is a late search season we'll have the notice posted this week and should have candidates by the first week of June," said Edwards. "We need to firm up a calendar for candidates to respond. Two years ago things were a little rough at Godorich, now the reputation of the district is better now, things are running well."
The departure of Bogner next month, will mark the fourth superintendent in 10 years.
Following the 23 years of Dr. Raymond Green, who retired in 2004, the four superintendents who have now come and goneareKim Hart, Larry Allen, John Fazer and Bogner.
William Mayes is the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators. The association represents a source of advice and support in areas critical to over 700 public school superintendents and first-line assistants in 584 school districts and 56 intermediate school districts.
"We know we are in difficult economic times," said Mayes. "It forces districts to make decisions they don't want to make and takes away from building effective programs in a variety of areas. And as funding declines you have to dismantle those programs. When you are forced to make cuts it's not popular—simply put, you can't offer the same programs you were offering. Moreover, many districts have privatized programs such as custodial and busing to get money into the classroom. Naturally, school boards don't like to make those decisions so it's on the superintendent.. All of a sudden the superintendent is not real popular— that's a major factor in departures."
Another factor regarding the turnover of superintendents is the encouragement of the Michigan Education Association members to run for school board, added Mayes.
"Today statewide we have a much higher number of MEA members running for office," he said. "It's become problematic when negotiations for wages is ongoing. The superintendent often gets caught in the middle and must somehow balance a budget. All those factors adds up and comes back to bite the superintendent."
Change can be slow in a school district. Long term programs once in place take a long time to grow—they need incubation and time to grow, he added.
"Just like an ore freighter on the Great Lakes, it takes about five miles just to turn that boat around," he said. "We know through detailed studies to bring quality change to a district takes a minimum of five years. With three or four superintendents in 10 years, as with Goodrich, it's not healthy. Stability is crucial—superintendents get to know the people in the community. They see them in stores and around town. There needs to be a rapport with the district established by the superintendent."
"I caution the school boards looking for a new superintendent," he said. "The superintendent should be about children, not adults. With a revolving door to the superintendent's office, it hurts children. You have to have a dialogue as a board if you want stability in your district. Look at the important things that allow the district to grow—over a minimum of five years. Ask the questions as a board. Are we fair? Do we understand the needs of the district? Are we supportive of the new superintendent? The most important task of a school board is to hire a superintendent and make the district flourish."