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School Board Interviews First 2 Superintendent Candidates: Harwood and Paulson

For more candidates will be questioned Wednesday and Thursday.

More than 30 community members turned out Monday night for the first of three interview sessions for the next .

David Pruneau will retire at the end of the school year; the Board of Education has chosen six applicants to consider as his replacement.

, assistant superintendent for human resources for the Grosse Pointe Public School System, was the first candidate interviewed Monday night.

Harwood has been a Rochester resident for 21 years and has a daughter in seventh grade at . His son graduated from in 2009.

“I bring to you a depth and wealth of information of how schools run ... as a member of this community I appreciate the foundation of excellence,” Harwood said. “I have passion for the field of education, I have the courage to make tough decisions.”

The second candidate interviewed Monday night was , superintendent of Lakeview Public Schools in St. Clair Shores.  

Paulson told the board he would consider Rochester the “last step in his career” of which he plans to continue for another 15 years. He lives in Lake Orion, but said he would move to Rochester if offered the position so his family could be involved in the community.

The board asked each candidate 14 questions about a variety of topics. In fairness to all of the candidates, Rochester Patch is not reporting the exact questions.

On closing achievement gaps

Harwood told the board that achievement gaps, specifically in the Native American student, is the subject of his dissertation.  He stressed that "differentiation is key" in closing gaps in achievement and that early childhood programs provide a foundation for success.

On the same subject, Paulson had a slightly different approach. He told the board, "There will always be achievement gaps, our work will never be done."  

Paulson went on to say that many of the tools used, such as MEAP testing, are done only once a year and are not as useful a tool as he would like to see implemented. 

On budgeting

Budgeting and funding reductions is on everybody's mind in the education arena, and both candidates outlined where they have been able to find cost savings in their districts.

Harwood is teaching a course in budgeting and accounting at Grand Valley State University and noted he was successful in implementing a budgeting formula that "ties compensation to the realities of how districts are funded."

Harwood, who noted contract negotiations happen on a daily basis, called himself a collaboration leader who works with staff, students and the community to provide growth.

Paulson said his district has maintained an 8 percent to 12 percent fund balance and that it cut buses to save money.

More interviews

The remaining four candidates are to be interviewed Wednesday and Thursday. The schedule is:

  • 6 p.m. Wednesday: Geraldine Moore, assistant superintendent for instruction, Rochester Community Schools
  • 7:30 p.m. Wednesday: Gary Richards, superintendent, Imlay City Schools
  • 6 p.m. Thursday: Frederick Clarke, superintendent Albion Public Schools
  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday: Paul DeAngelis, deputy superintendent for educational services, Birmingham Public Schools

The final round of interviews are scheduled for March 22, 24 and 25, starting at 7 p.m. at .

Members of the school community who have a question they would like addressed during the interview process are invited to fill out a comment card at the meetings this week. There will also be opportunity for public comment during next week's final round of interviews.

Concerned parent and PTA Treasurer Ramona Winarski said she hired baby-sitters for each night of public meetings this week. She encourages parents to be part of the process.

Joshua Raymond March 16, 2011 at 01:42 PM
I liked how Harwood would tie teacher pay to student performance. This better reflects the corporate world and allows great teachers to be retained through higher salaries. Tying compensation to district funding is also innovative. In tying to both academic performance and fiscal performance, it could provide incentive for school districts to spend money only on things that help students achieve and cut unnecessary expenditures. I thought Paulson had a good idea in regards to technology. Let teachers have a budget related to their classroom. If they need a SmartBoard, that comes out of there. If they prefer to spend that money on other educational aids, they can do that too. Let the classroom retain the budget each year so that expensive technology can be saved up for over time. As different subjects and different teachers have different needs, imposing a one-size-fits-all technology budget may not be the best solution. Rochester SAGE - Supporting Advanced & Gifted Students http://RochesterSAGE.wordpress.com
pandora March 16, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Harwood's district recently brought teachers to observe current best practice in RCS. Over the course of the last 20 years, I have been friends with a handful of teachers I personally know whom are working in GP schools. They remain unaware of the up to date programs and curriculum supports we employ in Rochester. They feel understaffed and lack training. You can have all the technology you want, but you have to be aware of current research in student learning. Rochester isn't cutting edge, but we are at least in this century. It concerns me to have a canidate whom comes from a district I have often heard does not support their students or staff in an intellectually sound way. I found these articles helpful when researching teacher pay/teacher performance. It would be sad to adopt an already proven ineffective strategy at the risk of our own student's education just because it is the newest "buzz" in the media. HEY maybe we could experiment with having the superintendent's salary tied to student performance just to be innovative? There has to be a canidate out there with a sensible solution that isn't media driven. I wonder if any parents would like to offer up their child as "the student whose performance is standing between the teacher and their job?" http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/09/merit_pay_for_teachers_who_imp.html http://www.danpink.com/archives/2011/03/does-giving-teachers-bonuses-improve-student-performance
Christopher March 17, 2011 at 01:36 PM
I think Pandora accidentally opened a box that she didn't want opened. The answer to your first question is, Yes, the taxpayers would love for the compensation of every employee of our public school system to be tied to student performance, or at least some indicator of the employee's performance. How about being tied to the market? Actually, we'd like the compensation of every public employee to be tied to performance. Why do the people at the road commission keep getting raises as the roads keep getting worse? The answer to the second questions is, "That's why we want to radically change education. The educational system is filled with people focused on their summers off, accummulating un-used sick days that will allow them to retire with full pension and benefits before their 50th birthday and getting tenure so that when combined with the MEA they can never be fired. Not on teaching children." Until the teachers union goes on strike for a longer school day or year, or a reduction in salary or benefits in exchange for supplies for the students, you won't convince most of us that you're about the students. When music or art programs are dropped, does the union say,"hey, we'll take a 5% pay cut to keep those programs?" Nope. Some are fooled by the rhetoric, but many are not.

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