East Detroit awaits appointment of CEO

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 20, 2016


EASTPOINTE — The state’s School Reform Office is aiming to name a CEO for four East Detroit schools in early May, according to East Detroit Public Schools Superintendent Ryan McLeod.

The SRO announced in February that a state-appointed CEO would be appointed to supervise East Detroit High School, Kelly Middle School, Bellview Elementary and Pleasantview Elementary to help the four buildings improve their test scores. They are all listed as “priority schools” by the state, meaning they are among the lowest-performing schools in the state.

McLeod said the job posting went up March 17 — the day SRO members met with district representatives — and ran through April 7. He said the district has not heard any updates since then.

“We had basically spent most of the time talking about the posting for the CEO and what the process was going to be for identifying the CEO, and what a timeline was going to look like on that,” McLeod said.

Under the listing, the CEO is responsible for evaluating the schools and identifying what areas need to be changed; “building collaborative relationships” with relevant people in the state, the Macomb Intermediate School District, the East Detroit administration, parents, teachers and principals; recruiting personnel; reporting regularly to the SRO; and implementing a reform plan for the coming school year through the 2018-19 year.

McLeod said that the district’s staff members were told they would be involved in the selection process, but as of April 13, he had heard nothing new from the SRO about the position.

“I guess our expectation for what collaboration looks like is a little different (from the SRO’s),” McLeod said. “Typically when we collaborate, we share things like the posting before it goes out; we may even look for input in the posting; and obviously reviewing applicants — we expected that is something we’d be involved with, but we have not received any contact for this.”

Caleb Buhs, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said there simply has not been any update since the job posting expired.

“The SRO team is currently conducting a review of the applicants and will be making decisions about which candidates to interview soon,” Buhs said in an email. “The intention is to make an offer to the selected candidate in May.”

McLeod said the SRO told him they wanted to get someone started in May in the position so that they could begin planning for the 2016-17 school year with enough time.

McLeod said the recent resignation of Gov. Rick Snyder’s education advisor, Karen McPhee, could have slowed down the process, though Buhs said that has not had any impact on the hiring timetable.

McLeod added that during the meeting, both he and school board President Craig Brozowski reiterated that they felt a CEO was unnecessary, and that the district had already started significant turnaround work. McLeod said they also told them they believes in their own staff’s ability to improve those schools in a short period of time.

“This kind of caught us as a surprise, just because we already have a district that’s made headway,” McLeod said. “There are probably other districts out there that could probably use the help of a CEO more than we could.”

Snyder also has requested $5 million for the proposed 2016-17 school aid fund budget for additional CEOs throughout the state. As of press time, both houses of the state Legislature had not included that funding in their own proposals.