Tecumseh School Board wraps-up interviews for superintendent
Tecumseh School Board President Edward Tritt commended the audience Thursday, Feb. 14, after the interview of Dr. Michael Osborne, the last of three finalists to be interviewed by the trustees for the position of superintendent. Many people in the board meeting room had been in attendance at the superintendent interview process for the entire six evenings of interviews of six primary and three final candidates. In all, the board has invested at least 14 hours in interviews in addition to regularly scheduled board meetings to secure a replacement for retiring Supt. Mike McAran.
The process is not finished yet. The board will meet again in special session next Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. to discuss where to go from this point. Options include calling all three finalists back for another interview, scheduling site visits to consult with colleagues of the candidates, or naming the next superintendent.
Tritt took an informal poll of those in attendance after Osborne’s interview to determine who had been at all of the sessions. Many in the audience had. “We have had such a great turnout through all of this,” Tritt said. “I applaud all of you for being here and participating.”
The open-meeting interviews reached what is expected to be the final round this week. Three candidates were selected from an original pool of six who were interviewed individually. The three finalists are Dr. Kelly Coffin, who received her second interview Tuesday, Feb. 12, and Sean McNatt, who was re-interviewed Wednesday, Feb. 13, and Dr. Michael Osborne, who appeared before the board for the second time Thursday, Feb.14.
All candidates agreed to spend the afternoon before their callback interview touring the school district and meeting with administrators, support staff, teachers and community members at meet-and-greet sessions before their interviews.
At McNatt’s interview Wednesday evening, he expanded on many of the answers that he had given in his first appearance and the board was able to ask follow-up questions. In the first round of questioning to all six of the superintendent prospects, the board had 21 prepared questions. For the second round they reduced that number to 14, most of which examined some of the same pertinent questions that they had posed originally. The interviews lasted an hour and a half and were well attended by community members who were allowed to ask written questions of the interviewee.
Questions for the prospective superintendents of TPS focused on administrative styles, money management skill, participation in the community, and relations with employees, among many other issues.
McNatt is currently superintendent of schools at Breckenridge Community Schools and during his answers to questions, he often referred to the academic and budgetary improvement that he helped achieve during his five years as chief administrator in the school district.
McNatt gave the board numerous examples and explanations for how his experience would translate well to a school district like TPS. One of the primary concerns of the board is keeping students and attracting new students to the school system.
“I have been successful at doing that at Breckenridge,” McNatt said. “I have done follow-ups when students left to find out why and we have been making improvements to keep students.”
McNatt also responded to a question about the importance of vocational training with an example of a program that he helped institute in Breckenridge. The program is a partnership with Mid-Michigan Manufacturing and is part of an emphasis on teaching students more than the usual core curriculum. “Jobs are becoming more and more high-tech,” he said. “The challenge is to get kids interested in the subjects that will lead them to good paying jobs, and it is not necessarily through a college degree.”
In closing, McNatt assured the board members that he was sincere in his desire to be the next superintendent, including moving to Tecumseh. His wife, who was in the audience with their daughter nodded her approval of the statement.
Dr. Michael Osborne, superintendent of the combined Hudson and Morenci school districts, was equally enthusiastic about his hope to become the new TPS superintendent. Trustees Thursday night posed the same 14 questions to him and his responses were in line with the other candidates.
One of the key questions that the trustees asked was about reports circulating of Osborne’s applications to become the chief administrator in two other school districts. Osborne quickly dispelled the board’s concerns regarding that issue. “I’m no longer pursuing those,” he said. “I have pulled out of both.”
Tecumseh trustees asked all candidates why they were interested in becoming the TPS superintendent and leaving their current position. Osborne told the board that he was extremely impressed with the Tecumseh schools and the progress that the students have been making in state testing. He said that the district is well regarded but he feels that under his leadership, students could advance even farther.
“I have spent the afternoon talking to teachers and students,” he said. “Things are going extremely well in Tecumseh right now, but there is great opportunity to improve and it would be gratifying to participate in that.”
After each interview, the candidates exited the boardroom and the audience was allowed to comment. Thursday night resident Steve Linn stood to commend the board for its diligence in the superintendent search. “I’m here to support the district and the board,” he said. “You have three very capable candidates. None of them are perfect, but they are all very good, qualified people. I have confidence that you will select the best one for my child and the district.”