School superintendent announces retirement

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published December 26, 2013

For the first time in 42 years, school will really be out for Troy School District Superintendent Barbara Fowler when the last bell rings this spring.

Fowler, 68, announced plans to retire effective July 1.

“I wanted to get through the bond issue,” she said of the timing of her decision.

“For me, it’s been a wonderful experience; I appreciate I was able to make a career here. I’ve had a wonderful job and wonderful career.”

She’s been with the Troy School District for 31 years, coming to the district as an administrator from the Anchor Bay School District.

After she graduated from Avondale High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Oakland University. She earned a doctorate in chemistry and a master’s in education from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

She has served as executive director for secondary education, assistant superintendent for secondary education and deputy superintendent for instruction, and was appointed superintendent in 2005.

Fowler said she is proud of her part in establishing the International Baccalaureate program.

“We tried to make sure to cover student needs. It was a very good move for the school district,” she said.

“We really focused on hiring quality staff, and that really shows in the accomplishments and achievements of the students,” she said.

“We’re really focused on student learning. It’s been a priority with staff,” she said. “We have a fabulous staff.”

“The Board (of Education) is so committed,” she added. “It’s a pleasure to work with them.”

She said the biggest challenge has been to maintain high quality in very difficult fiscal times.

During her tenure, the high schools in the Troy School District have been named among the nation’s top 5 percent of high schools in U.S. News and World Report, and were ranked in the top percentiles by The Washington Post.

Fowler plans to travel, spend time with her family and grandson, and stay “around Troy.”

Board of Education President Nancy Philippart described Fowler as a phenomenal leader and an outstanding asset to the district.

“She will be greatly missed,” Philippart said in a prepared statement. “While she will be difficult to replace, we intend to begin the process in a timely manner and have a superintendent in place before the start of the 2014-2015 school year.”

“Speaking as a board member who has served with several different superintendents over the years, I can tell you that Dr. Fowler proves to be a board member’s dream superintendent; she exemplifies all facets of a highly effective leader,” said longtime Trustee Ida Edmunds via email. “She has the ability to distinguish the responsibilities of board members from those of administration, and efficiently and ethically operates within those distinctions.  She has accepted and implemented new legislative directives to the benefit of every student who is educated in the district, and our students continue to excel academically. She has always understood the board’s perception of its fiscal obligation to the citizens and taxpayers of the community, and has respected and worked within those parameters. A relationship of trust exists between the board and the superintendent, and that is what has enabled the district to move forward during dire financial times. … We have our work cut out for us in the next few months, as it will be very difficult to replace Dr. Fowler.”

The Michigan Association of School Boards will hold a workshop Jan. 7 with the board to advise the trustees on the formal selection process, she said. The formal selection process will include opportunities for community input, Philippart said.

“Most of all, we wish Barbara well on her retirement and are grateful for her leadership and friendship over the years,” Philippart said. “She is a wonderful person and tireless advocate for our students.”