Berkley School District begins contract negotiations with new superintendent

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 24, 2021

 Scott Francis

Scott Francis

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BERKLEY — The Berkley School District’s Board of Education has selected its next superintendent.

At its May 10 meeting, the board discussed its final two candidates for superintendent: Berkley Schools District Director of Teaching, Learning and Technology Scott Francis and Detroit Public Schools Community District Assistant Superintendent Beth Gonzalez.

The current superintendent, Dennis McDavid, will be leaving his job after nine years when his contract expires at the end of June. The district reviewed 24 applicants before whittling them down to Francis and Gonzalez.

The board ultimately decided to select Francis, who is in his ninth year working in Berkley, with a 7-0 vote. Before taking on his current job, he was the principal at Pattengill Elementary School.

“It is humbling and an honor to be given this opportunity because it is such a great community and such a strong school board that provides great leadership as well,” he said.

The board voted to begin contract negotiations with Francis. Pending contract approval, which could come in June, Francis will start his new job July 1.

Board President Keith Logsdon said Francis had specific experience that lent itself to the position, citing one example as his time spent working with McDavid for the past several years.

“There’s been a natural mentoring going on there before the superintendent thing was even discussed,” he said. “His relevant experience really stood out, not to mention his character and just knowing him and working with him. He’s just a really stand-up guy.”

Logsdon also felt Francis’ 15 years of experience teaching in a classroom was a plus for the board. This included time spent working with special education and at-risk students. The board president said this helped form the new superintendent’s attitude of putting kids first.

“We all think that way, but that’s sort of the foundation of it,” Logsdon said. “His work as an elementary school principal at Pattengill was important in being able to lead a building and be very intentional with his relationships and interactions with the students and families and teachers.”

Francis has lived in Berkley for 17 years and his children go to school in the district. He said he gets to see from a parent’s perspective how the district operates and that it’s “great to be a part of it and to serve the community and to lead in this role.”

“This is a great community, and a great school district with passionate educators, teachers, dedicated administrators, wonderful parents — that is a great recipe for success for our students,” he said.

Though his contract still needs a final approval, one of Francis’ initial responsibilities once his tenure begins is to prepare for the upcoming school year, which he hopes will be “back to normal” after a full year operating under COVID-19 guidelines.

Francis also wants to build solid relationships with staff and community members.

“The school district has a great reputation with the local community members and partners like the city, so that’ll be one of my top priorities, is just being visible and available and meeting with different stakeholders throughout the summer, and I look forward to doing that,” he said.

According to Curriculum Matters.org, Gonzalez served as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, before working in Detroit Public Schools Community District. In her four years, “the district’s graduation rate improved from 67% to 78.8%; the district’s accountability grade has improved from a C+ to a B; and academic achievement continued to increase.”

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