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Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio

Hoping for best in school search

June 23, 2010 - Right at the beginning of Clarkston's search for a new superintendent, and some signs are less than encouraging.

Reporter Wendi Reardon sent an e-mail to school board members asking about the timeline for the search, and what they want in a superintendent.

These aren't difficult questions. I, for one, would look for a slavish devotion to education, open communication, and common sense, with a can-do, no-whining attitude.

I expected our e-mail box to be filled with trustees' insightful responses. What we received was one e-mail from board President Steve Hyer.

And it seemed a bit testy.

"You were at the meeting when we discussed this," he wrote.

Wendi brought up the possiblity of sharing the job search with Waterford School District to save costs, which is also looking for a superintendent. Hyer dismissed it.

"The Board of Education expressed great interest in being very serious about this process to find the right individual for Clarkston," he said. "We want to make this a long term appointment and not a quick fix. We are confident the process we will be firming up will be an excellent process yielding excellent results in providing us with a superintendent that can innovatively lead us into the future."

This is not a good sign.

Too much about "process." And don't voters elect the school board to "lead us into the future?"

This response, and the lack of others, indicates trustees are holding their cards close. A debate is coming over what kind of chief administrator Clarkston gets next one exactly the same, or something new.

In a discussion on the Clarkston News' Facebook page, a commentator pointed out Austin Intermediate School District spent $192,000 on a superintendent search ("Holey buckets!" we replied). They paid a search fee of $42,000, but then an additional $150,000 in legal fees to fight open record lawsuits associated with the hire of our new superintendent.

All school business should be public, open for all to see. The search for a new superintendent should be that and more.

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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