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Residents have advice for superintendent search



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June 02, 2010 - For Henry Woloson of Independence Township, the retirement of school Superintendent Al Roberts is a time to consider new ideas.

One is to share administration with neighboring school districts.

"A few Michigan school districts share a superintendent," Woloson said. "With Dr. Roberts leaving, why not explore the option for Clarkston and, say, Lake Orion?"

For Dawn and Mike Schaller of Independence, who have been leading a FOIA-fueled investigation of Roberts and the district, the retirement offers a chance for reform.

"We're ecstatic that Roberts is retiring," Dawn said. "We just hope that he is out of the district completely as of June 30 instead of the board allowing him to retire and come back on a one-year, or shorter, contract like Linda Nester and Dave Reshke did this year."

An Independence Township resident who asked to be identified only by his initials, S.S., stopped by The Clarkston News to share his opinions.

He said the school board should look for a superintendent with business experience.

"Perhaps we should look for an individual who has a business background, who knows how to allocate funds properly," he said. "There should be 100 percent transparency in all dealings."

The Schallers, who were billed $169 for one FOIA request for check registers, spending reports, and other documents, agree.

"We wish for a new district-wide mindset that the business of the school district is to educate students to the best of the district's ability and within the district's budget," Dawn said. "Leave responsibility for Clarkston real estate and retail business to the local real estate companies and the chamber of commerce."

Superintendents in charge of multiple districts, according to Michigan Association of School Boards, include:

John Hagel, Shiawassee and Clinton County regional education service districts;

Michael Osborne, Morenci and Hudson area schools; and

Janet Richards, Verona Mills, Church, Sigel Township, Colfax Township, and Bloomfield Township school districts.

Also, Superintendent Jon Felske is in charge of Godwin Heights and Wyoming in Grand Rapids.

Consolidating administration would be more difficult in a bigger district like Clarkston, said board Vice President Sue Boatman.

"I believe that superintendent consolidation is being done in very small school districts in order to save money and because it's more difficult to find quality superintendents willing to locate there," Boatman said. "It's also feasible because the workload and time constraints in a small district are so much less for a superintendent. I'll do some more research into these districts to see if the idea merits consideration for Clarkston."

"I also believe size of the district will be a factor in whether sharing is a reasonable consideration," said board Secretary Cheryl McGinnis.

"While I would never say never regarding sharing a superintendent, location would seem to me to be a requirement."

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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