Superintendent search

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

With Cassopolis leaning toward an internal superintendent candidate, the Board of Education at a retreat at Zeke’s in Dowagiac Wednesday evening decided at its next meeting Dec. 12 to formally seek letters of interest from candidates.
Superintendent Gregory Weatherspoon notified the school board last summer of his intent to retire from education a second time at the end of the 2011-2012 school year after 40 years to assure a smooth transfer to new leadership.

Gregory Weatherspoon

Weatherspoon’s seven years at the helm brought some stability to a district that has often been in transition.
In 26 years from 1985 to 2011, Cassopolis employed 11 superintendents, with the only longer tenure 10 years by John Ostrowski, who finished his career as Lewis Cass Intermediate School District superintendent.
Cassopolis Public Schools consulted current LCISD Superintendent Robert Colby, who worked with its personnel committee on a process for selecting a chief.
Colby outlined three options — sharing a superintendent with the LCISD, contracting services with the LCISD or sharing a superintendent with another local district.
“Before, (a shared position) would have been a conflict of interest, but that changed last July with a new law,” Weatherspoon said.
Weatherspoon offered a fourth option, “grow your own,” as the board did when it hired the 1968 Cassopolis graduate after retiring from 33 years in Lansing.
Searching for candidates from outside the district through Michigan Leadership Institute (MLI) or the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) could cost the district $7,000 if it is not satisfied with internal applicants.
“Hopefully,” he said, “if they get an inside candidate, I can work with them right now. The high school staff is concerned because of the PLA (Persistently Low-Achieving) status, which we got out of last year. We’re all against the wall on student achievement scores.
“The stripes on the zebra are changing. We’re all hanging on and trying to figure out how to get in this game of increasing student achievement.”
As President Christine Locke put it, “I don’t have a preference as to whether we go internal or external, but I believe whoever’s hired for that job, it needs to be stipulated we see dramatic gains in student achievement and test scores and the toxic culture at the high school disappear in two years so everybody knows starting out what is expected.”
Weatherspoon owns a summer home so won’t be leaving Cassopolis entirely, but his wife wants to return to the South, “so I’m not sure where I’m going to end up.”