Community helps put together a profile for the next superintendent

EDWARDSBURG — Thanks to help from the community, Edwardsburg Public Schools is prepared to select candidates to be the next superintendent.

During the past month, community members have assisted the school district in coming up with a candidate profile that will work as a guideline for filing the superintendent position. More than 140 people completed the survey, where they answered what they would like to see in the next superintendent and what challenges they believe he or she will face. Ninety-two community members attended focus groups or the community forum.

“The reason we take so much time and energy on the profile is it’s supposed to give school boards a semi-objective set of criteria when they’re going to decide who they are going to interview and who they are going to select,” said Gary Rider, who is assisting the school district in the search. “It’s a document that the community, the staff, kids, parents and community members have all had kind of a say in. They all informed the board with their opinions.”

Gary Rider

The candidate profile, which is available on the school district’s website, identified several areas of overlap or common themes when it comes to what the community members were looking for in the next superintendent. Some of the first items on the profile are:

°An effective communicator who will listen to staff, students, parents and the community.

°A passionate student-centered educator who understands our children’s diverse needs and will be committed to providing them all with the best opportunities possible.

°An effective, proactive and level-headed leader who can provide balance, experience, and wisdom to the organization.

°A compassionate, motivational and approachable person of integrity with the highest character who has strong convictions for what is good and right and be led by those convictions.

°Someone who understands our history and traditions and will clearly demonstrate their commitment and investment in both the community and school district.

“[The school board has] listened to the community and they are trying to be responsive with this document,” Rider said.

The application deadline for internal candidates to apply for the superintendent position ended on Monday, March 19, and members of the school board met at 7 p.m. last night to discuss which candidates, if any, will be interviewed for the position.

Once the board has come to a decision, the names of those candidates will be available to the public. However, only the names of candidates that receive an interview are released. According to Rider, this is due to the Open Meetings Act in the state of Michigan.

“The board, under the Open Meetings Act, is allowed to go into closed session to consider application materials for the position of superintendent,” he said. “That is what I am confident [happened] Wednesday night.”

Neither the public nor the media is able to be part of closed sessions. However, the board cannot deliberate or make decisions about candidates in a closed session, according to Rider.

For instance, once when Rider was assisting a different school district in a candidate search, there was a candidate that had to disclose that he had been charged with a misdemeanor.

“What it was, he was hunting, didn’t realize where he was, and shot an RV that belonged to one of the board members,” he said. “You can’t make this stuff up. What they were able to do in a closed session is they were able to talk about the fact that he had shot the RV and had been charged with a misdemeanor. The board member was even able to talk about the facts of this. What they could not do is talk about how it would or would not affect his candidacy for the position.”

According to Rider, after the closed session, the school board deliberates the candidates in an open session, which the public was allowed to attend. In order to protect the identity of any candidates while the board is deliberating, each should have been assigned a number and will only be identified by that number unless they are offered an interview.

Any internal candidates that are to receive interviews for the position of Superintendent of Edwardsburg Public Schools are expected to be announced later this afternoon.

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