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Board Offers Rochester Schools Job to Albion Superintendent Clarke

He was chosen from among three finalists to replace retiring Superintendent David Pruneau.

In a unanimous vote, Rochester Board of Education members chose Frederick Clarke, superintendent of Albion Schools, as the next leader of

"I found him to be articulate, to have a depth of knowledge and to be very well-prepared," said board member Marty Sibert, who led the committee to find a new superintendent to replace .

"He always spoke in a positive manner," Sibert said. "I certainly found him to have a vision."

Clarke with board members before their decision Friday night; he was the third and final candidate interviewed this week.

Board members commended Clarke's background in technology, his ability to think "out of the box" and his commitment to being involved with the community outside of the school. They described him as intellectual and inspirational — one who would take the district from "great to greatest," as he mentioned in his interview Friday.

"He had meat behind the vision and some demonstrable examples. ... He saw the challenges as opportunities," said board member Gerald Moore.

Board member Chuck Coutteau called Clarke a collaborative, participating leader. "He was zeroing in on the right things," Coutteau said. "He has experience with being creative with less funding."

Board members planned to call Clarke to offer him the position following Friday night's meeting. They will then begin to negotiate his salary.

Clarke was a high school science teacher and an assistant high school principal before he moved into administration. While leader of Albion Schools, Clarke implemented all-day kindergarten, which Rochester is debating now.

Clarke is enrolled in the doctoral program at Western Michigan University. He holds a master's degree in education, curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan. (Clarke's resume is attached to this story.)

After board members announced their decision, Doug Hill, president of the Rochester Education Association, said he congratulated Clarke and looks forward to working and collaborating with him.

Lynette Teller, a media teacher who attended the board interviews, called the process interesting and informative. "Unfortunately, I wish more stakeholders were able to take time to join in the process," she said.

Sherry March 26, 2011 at 04:27 PM
I truly hope the school board is smart about negotiating Clark's salary; if he is being hired to implement change, then hold him accountable. A decent base salary with incentives over a fixed time period: if Clark proves the worth of his ideas by making some postive changes he can be financially rewarded...not unlike professional athletes where superb perfomance per season is monetarily recognized.
Mike Reno March 26, 2011 at 06:23 PM
He makes $116K now. Pruneau makes $200K. Betcha they offer him $200K!
Mike Reno March 26, 2011 at 07:40 PM
It's sorta like a modern day version of “My Fair Lady”, in which the Rochester school board is going to see how well a relatively inexperienced superintendent can transition from a small, poor, underperforming school district to a large, complex, and academically promising district. A grand experiment indeed!
Jeremy Nielson March 28, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Sherry - I agree. A large chunk of his salary should be performance based. What would be some good measures to hold him accountable?
Sherry March 29, 2011 at 01:30 AM
The sad part, Jeremy, is that I am not even sure what would be a fair standard of measurement. Given the educational deficit, what positive changes can be implemented??? Should RCS community schools simply reward the guy for creatively helping the board make budget cuts in the least painful way??? And, Mike, while this is certainly a larger district worthy of a higher salary, it would be a shame to just hand him Pruneau's salary at such a financially difficult time-- before Clark has proven his mettle. To use your quote, it is "a grand experiment indeed," and hopefully we will be lucky to stand witness, not unforutnate.
Mike Reno March 29, 2011 at 01:40 AM
I sent an email to the board suggesting that they NOT give the same salary, and that they make part of the pay based on performance. I also said they should NOT make it an auto renewing contract. I would suggest that everyone send them a similar note... Let them know people are watching.
Sherry March 29, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Mike, of course, what a good idea!!! is it too late at this point???
Mike Reno March 29, 2011 at 03:09 AM
I doubt that they have started talking with him yet.
Jeremy Nielson March 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Well I think your first concern - the educational deficit - should be measured and rewarded for improvement, not just continued momentum. One of our saddest measurements is our 34% College Readiness scores. Or if we're going to use the MEAP scores as the metric, that we stop using "proficient" as our benchmark and instead ask for improvement in the "Advanced" category. The district captures a lot of metrics, 33+ pages worth, to measure our district's success. I'm sure incorporating many of those existing district goals would be possible. Unfortunately, the school board has abdicated their responsibility for passing realistic and reasonable budgets. As Mike has said elsewhere, the Superintendent can make his recommendations, but the Seven School Board members are the ones with the final authority. I'm not sure what the school board will do about Clarke's performance metrics. They've got three months to negotiate the contract before he starts - plenty of time to work out the nitty-gritty details. I've sent them an email urging them to put these metrics in place, like Mike suggested. It makes sense to me. Will it make sense to them?
Joshua Raymond March 29, 2011 at 05:08 PM
I've provided an extended look at Mr. Fred Clarke and his previous district at http://rochestersage.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/getting-to-know-superintendent-select-fred-clarke/
Rochester Hills Resident March 29, 2011 at 05:42 PM
I did not follow this whole process closely and did not attend the interviews so I am certainly no expert. However, based on looking at Mr. Clarke's resume, I would have thought that the Board would have chosen someone who was more experienced and accomplished with a district the size of Rochester Schools? He also seems to have not spent a lot of time in any position or district either. There were other candidates who clearly had this experience. Also, he is working on his PhD at Western and will not be done until May 2013....how will he balance this new job, budget cuts and PhD all at once. Can someone please educate me? Was there something about this candidate that was a huge determining factor for the board? I am looking for some facts....anyone?
Mike Reno March 29, 2011 at 05:55 PM
We have no facts, RH Resident. Here is what the board said: "He always spoke in a positive manner," Sibert said. Coutteau said, "He has experience with being creative with less funding." (True that! His budget is $10 million or so. Rochester's is $158 million. We are looking to CUT $16 million, which is more than he has ever SPENT.) Nowak said, "The people in Albion liked him." (Although, when considered for the superintendent position in the tiny Dowagiac school district, the board went to visit. Our board didn't. Dowagiac said "No thanks." Our's didn't.) Cenko said, "He wants to make sure all of our kids are successful." He must have somthing for our board to pluck him out of one of the BOTTOM 2% of districts in the state to head what they repeatedly refer to as one of the TOP 2%. It's especially interesting, given that we passed over credentialed and accomplished executives from Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and within our own district.
Rochester Hills Resident March 29, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Thank you Mike...based on the information you have provided, this whole thing remains a mystery to me. I guess a shocking mystery especially considering the 3 candidates that you mentioned in your post that were passed over. There is also information on the web that states this candidate has been trying to leave Albion as soon as they arrived there. I so hope that this is the right person during such troubled times that we are living through. Thanks again!
Susan M. March 29, 2011 at 08:43 PM
It seems hard to believe that the vote to select Clarke is even valid. From the information I've read in the minutes and agendas that were released from Rochester Community Schools, I was under the impression that the video of the interviews would be aired on their cable channel on Sunday, March 27, with discussion on the candidates to be held on Monday, March 28.
Kristin Bull (Editor) March 29, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Hi, Susan. Originally the Board of Education DID have a meeting planned for Monday night for the purpose of discussing and voting on a superintendent choice. However, they also had always intended to discuss the candidates on Friday night after the final interview. Because their choice was unanimous, they had little discussion on Friday night. After the choice was made, they canceled the Monday night meeting.
Mike Reno March 29, 2011 at 09:51 PM
But always remember that the board welcomes input from the public! :-o
Mike Reno March 29, 2011 at 10:11 PM
This just in from Bloomfield: "The funding gap could be partially resolved with $2.2 million in cuts that include a 5% wage reduction from his current $180,000 salary for Supt. Rob Glass. " If the supt of Bloomfield can squeak by on $171K... with substantially higher per-pupil funding... you'd think we could in Rochester. Maybe $150K base, with another $20-$30K in potential bonus based on achieving objectives?
Rod Macleod March 31, 2011 at 03:47 PM
In reading over the previous comments as to his lack of experience, and that "He always spoke in a positive manner," as well as "The people in Albion liked him" and "He wants to make sure all of our kids are successful." It appears that the board made a decision based on platitudes; a shining example of symbolism over substance. This is strangely reminiscent of the "hope & change" that has brought us a fiscal disaster on the national level. What it amounts to is that people have not done their homework, and there is always a price to pay for that...
Clara T April 03, 2011 at 07:15 PM
http://advisor-chronicle.com/albion-superintendent-clarke-takes-position-in-rochester-p491-1.htm "Albion Public Schools Superintendent Frederick Clarke accepted a position last week with Rochester Community Schools near Detroit. “We are negotiating the contract right now,” Clarke said on Tuesday. The Rochester School Board offered Clarke, who was one of three finalists, the position after voting unanimously at their board meeting on March 25." "With Rochester being the ninth largest school district in Michigan, Clarke said he is looking forward to applying his skills to a much larger district. Rochester has approximately 15,000 students in comparison to Albion’s 1,000." "Albion is facing a $2.5 million dollar deficit, but Clarke said their main efforts are to meet the needs of the students, which Clarke said is difficult to do with the cuts the state is giving. In the 2009-2010 academic year, Albion was listed in the bottom five academically in Michigan. Since then, the school has been working on a transformation model with strategies to increase effectiveness to improve the Albion schools. Albion High School currently faces three challenges: academic achievement, financing and pupil enrollment."

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