Full-time interim hired at Niles SchoolsPublished 8:32am Wednesday, April 9, 2014
For the next 15 months, a familiar face in Berrien County will serve as interim superintendent for Niles Community Schools.
The board of education announced Tuesday that Dr. Michael Lindley, a longtime superintendent of New Buffalo Area Schools, has formally been appointed to replace Dr. Kevin Ivers as the full-time interim superintendent of Niles Community Schools. Lindley’s spot as the top choice for the role was first announced about two weeks ago.
“I am eager to work with the Board of Education and the qualified and dedicated professionals in Niles to ensure that the community’s students are receiving the educational services they require to maximize their intellectual and personal potential,” Lindley said. “Thus far, everyone has been helpful in easing my acclimation the district, and I am impressed with the many pathways to success that are offered to the students in Niles.”
Lindley is contracted for a total of $94,669 over the course of 15 months — $46,180 in 2014 and $48,489 in 2015.
“It’s a little bit different. Most of the time when you’re talking about school contracts, it’s for the school year,” Lindley said. “I’m still in a retirement system. I have a limitation with how much I can take in without losing retirement. It’s set up this way so I do not exceed an amount through the retirement system.”
Lindley has more than 20 years experience as a central office administrator, including an 18-year tenure at New Buffalo Area Schools. Lindley has also served as a teacher, Title 1 coordinator, principal and assistant superintendent.
Most recently, Lindley served as an interim superintendent at Bridgman Public Schools. He currently serves as a trustee on the Lake Michigan College board of trustees.
Lindley said he is excited to deal with the challenges ahead for his position as Niles schools face a transitional year.
“I’ve been an administrator for 34 years. (The school board) just felt that they needed someone with experience to come in and help identify the skillset that they are looking for,” Lindley said.
The board of education’s initial goal was for Ivers to help with the transition and to have a permanent superintendent in place by the end of June. However, the board decided to postpone the process because the search firm hired to find a permanent superintendent had concerns about the timing and believed that most qualified candidates were already committed to other school districts.
The decision to delay the process of hiring a permanent superintendent means that the board will not resume search until fall.
“It’s kind of baptism by fire right now coming in before the school year ends and trying to figure out what has to happen now,” Lindley said. “Fall will start the process, but at that point it’s not a very public process. The board will host meetings, focus groups and opportunities for the community, teachers and administrators to fill out some forms and again, go through some focus group exercises.”
Lindley said the goal of the community participation is to develop a profile of what the ideal superintendent would look like.
“From their research, (the board) will come up with that list. Then they will start advertising for applications. That may be in December or January. Once they get the applications in, there will be a review process. Then they’ll identify those individuals they want to interview, based on the criteria that they’ve established,” Lindley said.
Lindley said the lengthy process will allow the board to choose a superintendent that fits the candidate profile they’ve developed rather than choosing candidates they know.
Lindley’s term as interim began immediately following the board meeting Monday.
“Improving student learning is the primary objective of the board and the entire staff at Niles Community Schools,” Board President Kathy Zeider said in a prepared statement. “Given Dr. Lindley’s proven track record of success, we are confident that he is the idea educational leader to guide our schools during this transition.”
Ivers, the current superintendent of Berrien Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), was hired as a part-time superintendent to replace Dr. Richard Weigel, who stepped down in late February. In a letter to the school board, Weigel attributed his resignation to his differing vision for the future from the administrators in the Niles school district.