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Rochester School Board Narrows Superintendent Candidates To 2

Finalists will return for second interviews in two weeks.

David Richards and Robert Shaner have been named finalists in the search for Rochester's next superintendent. 

Who are these men? They were the educational leaders thought to be the "best fit" for inspiring Rochester Community Schools staff and improving achievement for students, Board of Education members determined just before midnight Wednesday.

Richards, superintendent of Fraser Public Schools, and Shaner, director for instruction and technology for Warren Consolidated School District, will return to Rochester in two weeks to visit with principals, teachers, students and parents. And the public will get a chance to meet them during an open house Jan. 22.

Here's why they were chosen as finalists.

Ties to Rochester

Board members unanimously picked Richards as a finalist.

He has been superintendent at Fraser for the past two years. The district has an enrollment of 5,356 students and a $51 million budget. From 1995-2005, he was the director of educational technology and information systems for Rochester Schools.  

Board members highlighted his familiarity with Rochester, but mentioned his humility, too. "He wasn't trying to say he knew it all," board member Chuck Coutteau said.

They also noted his "impressive education credentials," along with his vision and drive. They agreed with one of his philosophies: that "student engagement is key, and students have to own their own learning." 

To read Richards' resume and application packet, visit the "Superintendent Search" area on the Rochester Community Schools home page.

Global experience

Shaner has worked in his role for Warren Consolidated School District for the past two years. The district has an enrollment of 15,600 students and a budget of $160 million. 

In 2010 he received a yearlong fellowship to study educational leadership abroad; board members appreciated this global experience.

They also appreciated his forthright and precise answers during his Wednesday night interview; when asked about his views of virtual learning, Shaner said he believes in "brick and mortar schools with a teacher in the classroom."

Shaner has been a principal and a teacher and was a former police detective. Several board members cited Shaner's clarity of vision: he was succinct but thoughtful, they said. 

Shaner mentioned that he and his family are in Rochester "a lot" for events and activities. 

To read Shaner's resume and application packet, visit the "Superintendent Search" area on the Rochester Community Schools home page.

Conflicting votes

Richards and Shaner were selected over candidates Cindy Weber, superintendent of Durand Area Schools, and Robert Martin, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for West Bloomfield School District, who both interviewed Monday night. 

Board members debated at length between Shaner and Martin, whom they praised for his creativity and collaborative approach to leadership. Martin lives in Rochester Hills.

In the end, Shaner received four votes from board members and Martin received two votes, with one board member torn. The votes were cast on secret paper ballots.

What's next

Next week a team of board members, school principals and other leaders in the school community will travel to Warren and Fraser to conduct site visits. Board members will also call at least 14 references for each candidate. Richards and Shaner will return to Rochester Jan. 22 and 23 for more interviews. 

Community members will have an opportunity to meet both candidates at an open house from 7-8 p.m. Jan. 22. The candidates will be interviewed publicly the evening of Jan. 23.

Board members will make a decision and vote on entering into contract negotiations with an individual on Jan. 24.

The superintendent will replace Fred Clarke, who resigned in September. Clarke's annual salary was $172,000; board members will meet in a closed session Monday to discuss a potential contract, including salary offer, for the next superintendent.

diane glinski January 14, 2013 at 05:43 PM
"The CREDO study also ignored the positive impact on charter school standardized test scores resulting from the different demographic makeup of student populations in charter and traditional public schools – what academics refer to as the “peer effect.” Going to school only with other motivated and high functioning students may indeed improve educational outcomes for some charter school students, but at what cost? 
In Newark, for example, Professor Baker has demonstrated that the growth of charter schools has resulted in an increased concentration of the most challenging to educate children within the traditional public school system. So while some charter schools end up with an easier to educate population, the learning environment for the majority of Newark’s children becomes much more challenging." 
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/12/06/opinion-credo-s-study-of-charter-schools-in-nj-leaves-many-unanswered-questions/
Joshua Raymond January 14, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Which do better, charter schools with for-profit or non-profit management organizations? Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) are nonprofit entities that manage two or more charter schools. Education Management Organizations (EMOs) are for-profit entities that manage charter schools and perform similar functions as CMOs. The recent CREDO report showed that charter schools that are part of a CMO (non-profit) performed worse than charter schools with no CMO affiliation. However, charter schools operated by an EMO (for profit) performed significantly better than non-EMO charter schools. It appears that the for-profit EMOs are having better results than the non-profit CMOs.
diane glinski January 14, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Joshua-- My apologies on the post deleting - was trying to get the order right. To your point - it sure would be nice if there was an impartial organization doing some research on this subject...
Joshua Raymond January 14, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Diane, you cited the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice above, an organization founded by the Michigan Education Association and run by local and national education associations. I'm thinking that could qualify as "not a disinterested research institution". CREDO also produced the previous report which has been cited by many traditional public school advocates for poor charter performance. It has not been strictly pro-charter and its data has shown that charter schools in some states are performing quite poorly. Professor Bruce D. Baker writes for the National Education Policy Center, which receives funding from foundations established by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. (just correcting for post order)
J.C. January 21, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Integrity. Webster’s defines it as a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: INCORRUPTIBILITY”. Then the first sentence describing integrity states ”He's a man of the highest integrity.” I’m partial, I’ve known Dr. Shaner for 40 years, and no I’m not a relative. His oldest friend (as in # of years). To say that Dr. Shaner has integrity is to say that water is wet. To walk into a room with Dr. Shaner I guarantee you’ll be a better person when you walk out having met him. Few people in life have that kind of effect. Dr. Shaner is one of them. I've never met Dr. Richards. I’m sure he is qualified for the job. However qualified doesn’t mean you’re right for the job. Being a former Rochester employee doesn’t mean you’re right for the job. Living in the community doesn’t mean you’re right for the job. I’m sure he has integrity, but are you better for knowing him? With Dr. Shaner, I guarantee the District will be better for knowing him. “He’s a man of the highest integrity.”

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