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August 25, 2010 - Dr. Richard Drury, former superintendent for Community Unit School District 200, Wheaton, Ill., had some explaining to do at his job interview for Clarkston superintendent.

"I am sure there were times I was overly passionate, but in the meantime I did what needed to be done," said Drury to Clarkston Board of Education, Monday. "In my last three districts, the theme has been how can we be better."

Drury retired from the Wheaton district, located in a suburb of Chicago, this past October. Contracted through the end of the year, he was paid $148,000 remaining in his $208,000 salary, $15,500 in retirement, and $60,000 severence salary, according to the school district.

According to a statement by the local board of education, Drury balanced the budget, passed a $20 million bond, and accomplished other goals.

However, "differences arose over future goals and the leadership and direction of the School District," according to the Oct. 15, 2009 statement. "Discussions between Dr. Drury and the board about these differences resulted in the (retirement) agreement. Dr. Drury's personal and professional integrity remain above reproach."

Drury stayed on as a consultant at the same salary.

Interviewing with Clarkston school board, he said he went out into the community speaking at local chamber of commerce events, monthly meetings with parent organizations, talked to union representatives, and used technology for Skype and podcasts online.

"I held Saturday morning donuts with the superintendent, even if it was just me, for an hour," he said.

He, along with superintendent candidates Cindy Weber, superintendent for Durand Area Schools, and Dr. Rod Rock, director of Instructional Services for Saginaw Intermediate School District, said focus would be on students, their needs, and how to make cuts without impacting the classroom.

Questions for Rock were also about his experience with contract negotiations and what kind of superintendent he would be – visible or not.

"I have worked with superintendents on contract negotiations, worked on the contract and talked to leadership teams," Rock said. "I haven't sat at the table."

For visibility, he plans to be in the schools and visiting classrooms.

"I want to know teacher's names and to be involved," he said.

He also believes in full transparency and when asked about putting a check registry online he was in full support.

"We have nothing to hide," he said.

Some members of the 30 plus audience noticed his quiet demeanor and were curious how he would react to how vocal and heated some topics could become with board members, unions and the community.

"I have no hesistance to stand up for things I believe in," he said.

As for the future his eyes are wide open.

"I am a person who see possibilities," he said. "I don't see borders. When many say it can't be done – I don't see it."

In her interview, Weber said she is active in Durand Area Schools, meeting with groups and working closely with parents and senior citizens. She writes a column for the local community paper.

"I write about what is going on in our building and what we are working on so people know and understand," she explained. "I keep the community informed on what we are doing with the bond."

Each candidate added their personal view on Clarkston and how it stood out to them.

"This is a wonderful place," said Rock. "When I drove in Thursday afternoon I knew it was a place I wanted to be."

He also took in a visit to the Clarkston High School stadium and saw a mass of fans watching the football scrimmage.

"I have a lot I can bring and add to what you are doing," he added. "The sky is the limit."

The board was to interview three more candidates on Tuesday night. According to the interview format selected by the board of education, board members read questions from a prepared list, with followups. They didn't make comments on candidates during the meeting.

They will discuss and decide, Wednesday, on the top two candidates, to bring back for a second interview.

Please visit www.ClarkstonNews.com for updates on the superintendent search.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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