UPDATE: Berkley School Board to Interview Superintendent Candidate Tuesday
Community invited to a special session with candidate Dennis McDavid, the district’s current director of Schools and Human Resources, to replace Mike Simeck, who announced Feb. 14 that he will be leaving for new position in Illinois.
The Berkley Board of Education is moving quickly to choose a successor to outgoing superintendent Mike Simeck, who announced last month that he is leaving at the end of the school year for a position in the Chicago area.
The board has invited Dennis McDavid, the district’s current director of Schools and Human Resources, to interview for the superintendent's position, according to a statement from board President Paul J. Ellison. McDavid’s interview will take place during a special session of the Berkley Board of Education at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday.
"The unusual interview time is to accommodate elementary PTA parents and staff who may wish to attend," Ellison said in the statement. "The Berkley Board believes its most important task is hiring a great leader for our District, and we have taken that task very seriously."
Simeck officially offered his resignation, effective July 1, to Berkley school board officials on Feb. 14 after accepting a like position with a school district in Lake Forest, IL, an affluent community along Chicago’s tony North Shore. Simeck’s previous bid for the top job in Bloomfield Hills ended after that district extended an offer to another candidate.
A day after his resignation was accepted, Berkley school board officials held a meeting to discuss how best the district should proceed with the search for Simeck’s successor, as well as to assess whether to continue with initiatives put in placed by the now-outgoing superintendent.
Ellison, in an email sent to district parents, listed some points considered in making the decision to interview McDavid rather than conduct an external search, including:
- By mid-February of this year about a dozen other local school districts had already completed superintendent searches or were in the advanced stages of the process. As a result, many of the external candidates reputed to be the “most qualified” are no longer available for the upcoming 2012-13 school year.
- The search process in many of the other local districts proved to be highly divisive to their communities and very fractious to their districts. At least two districts eventually selected one of their own internal administrators after enduring such divisive searches and expending significant sums on professional search firms.
- Berkley has an established precedent of selecting internal candidates for the superintendent's position. Of the district’s last five superintendents, three were internal candidates appointed directly by the board.
"We have every reason to believe that Berkley already has 'best-in-the-industry' talent to step in and do great work," Ellison stated. "We believe this decision is the best method to maintain the current momentum of the District, keep its talented administrative team intact, and move forward quickly to continue addressing ongoing initiatives and pressing new challenges."
Glut of openings at districts around Michigan
Berkley Schools’ top job is but one of several leadership positions that have opened up around the state within the last several months, the most notable of which is in Grand Rapids — Michigan’s third largest public school district.
That position, currently being filled on an official “interim” basis by the district’s no. 2 administrator, remains suspended after a search failed to produce viable candidates.
The recent glut of top openings at school districts around the state has been attributed by some to legislation signed last summer by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that cut primary and secondary education spending in favor of tax breaks geared toward business. Those budget cuts, and the resulting deficits they created for districts, have become a systemic challenge in attracting qualified administrators since there is little individual districts can do to make up shortfalls other than to follow suit and reduce services.
Prior to 1994’s voter-approved Proposal A, which precludes individual school districts from raising taxes to cover education budget shortfalls, a district facing deficits would likely have turned to its residential tax base in an effort to shore up funds.
As for Simeck’s decision to depart, the reported compensation package that Lake Forest offered him, including a yearly base salary of $220,000 plus an additional $30,000 for managing a smaller, secondary district, with other benefits to follow — coupled with an affluent, educated population not facing the deficit restrictions present at his current job — likely didn’t dissuade the educator.
Simek’s predecessor in the role was reportedly the highest paid school superintendent in the state of Illinois, according to the nonprofit Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based libertarian think tank.
If you go
- What: The Berley Board of Education will interview Dennis McDavid, the district's director of Schools and Human Resources, for the superintendent's position being vacated by current superintendent Mike Simeck at the end of the school year.
- When: 8:15 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Berkley Board of Education Conference Room at the district’s Administrative Offices, 14700 W. Lincoln, Oak Park
- What else: Members of the community are encouraged to attend special session. An opportunity will be provided for members of the community to submit a limited number of questions to be posed by the board to McDavid.
Come back to Patch for updates on this report.