Three finalists chosen for Tecumseh Public Schools’ superintendent position

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The Tecumseh School Board narrowed the field of superintendent candidates down to three in special session Monday, Feb. 4. The board interviewed six candidates last week, two each on three separate nights. Monday night, the trustees discussed the pros and cons of the six highly qualified applicants and came to a consensus on three. Dr. Kelly Coffin seemed to be on the short list for all of the board members, but they agreed that they would also like to hear again from Sean McNatt and Dr. Michael Osborne.

All three candidates will be offered the opportunity to appear before the board for a second interview next week. The interviews, if the candidates accept, will take place Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Feb. 12, 13, and 14. The order of the interviews is yet to be determined. Interviews begin at 7 p.m. in the administrative services building, 212 N. Ottawa St.

Board President Ed Tritt began Monday night’s deliberations, which were held in open session, by reminding everyone present to keep the discussion positive. “There were certain ones that we interviewed that were very impressive and we need to keep in mind that we are not necessarily limited to two to call back. This is the most important job that we will do as a board. We need to exercise due diligence in this process.”

Trustee Kim Amstutz-Wild said that she, too, would like to keep the possibility of calling back three candidates on the table and not restrict the evening’s discussion to only two.

“At this time, there needs to be some conversation among all of you,” said Richard Dunham, who is facilitating the superintendent search through the Michigan Association of School Boards. “At the end of the meeting, each board member should name their top one, two, or three candidates.”

In ensuing discussions, all of the candidates were considered and evaluated and all were commended as qualified, but among the most important criteria for serious consideration that the board came back to repeatedly was the issue of whether the candidate expressed willingness to move into the district if he or she were hired as superintendent. All board members agreed that this was an important factor for further consideration.

Trustee Matt Oren was a supporter of Coffin, saying she was the front-runner in his estimation. “I’m down to one candidate, and that’s Kelly Coffin,” he said. “She lives in this district and has kids in this district. All of the others seem to be going up or coming down [in their careers]. The fact that she is already part of the community is a huge plus.”

Trustee Roger Hart summed up the residency issue. “I consider a superintendent not living in the district a deal-breaker,” he said.

Of the three that made the final cut, Coffin is already a resident of the district with children in Tecumseh Public Schools. Osborne is superintendent of the nearby school districts of Hudson and Morenci, and McNatt assured the board that “It would be my pleasure to move here with my three kids.” McNatt is currently superintendent at Breckenridge Community Schools.

Coffin is a former Tecumseh Middle School teacher and is currently an assistant superintendent for special education and general services at the Lenawee Intermediate School District as well as adjunct professor in educational leadership at Eastern Michigan and Siena Heights universities.

“Everybody had Coffin somewhere near the top,” said consultant Dunham at the end of the meeting. “Dr. Coffin is definitely a call back.”

After further discussion, the board wished to hear more from McNatt and Osborne next week, also.

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