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Gutman gone: School board sets sights on finding interim replacement

October 20, 2010 - Will Superintendent Ken Gutman stay or go?

It's not a question anymore now that word has come in from Walled Lake Consolidated Schools officials and Gutman himself: he's leaving.

Tuesday, Oct. 12, the Walled Lake Board of Education voted to appoint Gutman as their new superintendent, pending negotiating a contract with him in the next several days.

He will replace their current super, William Hamilton, whose retirement is effective Dec. 1, though Gutman could leave for his new job as early as Nov. 1.

Walled Lake's Board President Michael Karson said Gutman is a "peak performer" and the district is pleased to offer him the job.

"(Gutman) is in synch with the district's mission to become the best district in America," Karson said. "He believes in the direction the Walled Lake Schools is headed and we are confident he can lead us there."

He added, "The superintendent search process has been arduous… I believe our choice of Mr. Gutman is the right choice for Walled Lake Schools."

Gutman said he has "mixed feelings" about leaving for Walled Lake.

"(Lake Orion) is a great district and I've enjoyed my 11-plus years here," he said. "It's been a great experience and you are in good hands. This district has an incredible staff and a supportive community, and it's such a caring board of education – I am, as are all people, replaceable."

Who will replace him?

Less than 24 hours after Walled Lake signed Gutman on, the Lake Orion Board of Education was spinning ideas of how to fill its own vacancy. After their Oct. 13 meeting, they left with direction to find an immediate, interim replacement while starting the process to find someone fulltime.

The "prime window" for seeking superintendents is in the spring, around March or April, said Boardmember Bob Gritzinger, which means the district might be interviewing in May and hiring in June for a July 1 employment start date.

The sooner the district begins the process to find a permanent super, the better, said Margaret Hazlett, executive director of human resources, indicating that many experienced administrators have retired in the last two years and Lake Orion will be in direct competition with other districts in finding qualified candidates.

But that doesn't mean the district can't tap into the pool of retired superintendents for the interim.

Boardmember Jim Weidman said he hopes to land one with not only administrative experience, but also with experience in successful bond elections.

"Having that experience would be an added benefit," he said.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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