Harper Woods superintendent to retire in June

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published January 25, 2017

HARPER WOODS — At a meeting of the Board of Education Jan. 10, Harper Woods District Schools Superintendent Todd Biederwolf announced his plans to retire in June, following the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year.

Biederwolf stated that he had been considering the decision for some time, and that he feels now is the proper time for him to enter into retirement after several decades in education.

“I had an exceptional career. I have served the students of Michigan’s public schools for 30 years, so now is just the right time to move on to the next step, which is my retirement,” said Biederwolf. “I’ve been the Harper Woods superintendent for eight years. Prior to coming to Harper Woods, I was a tenured teacher with Detroit Public Schools, I was a principal and vice principal in Warren Consolidated Schools, and I also worked in the central office there. I began as superintendent for Harper Woods on June 1, 2009.”

Several members of the board expressed regret that they would be losing Biederwolf and wished him the best of luck in retirement. School board President Regina Williams stated that Biederwolf was very successful as superintendent, and he accomplished many positive things for the community during his time there.

“Mr Biederwolf has been a wonderful superintendent for the last eight years,” said Williams. “He has done a great job negotiating contracts and providing excellent leadership. Not only that, but he has done this with a high level of professionalism and has been dedicated to the education of our children. The new superintendent will have some big shoes to fill, but I am confident we will find the best person for the job.”

Biederwolf said he is proud of his term as the leader of Harper Woods schools, and said they have made several big gains in his eight years.

“I am proud of my longevity and my continuity here in Harper Woods,” said Biederwolf. “I am the third-longest-tenured super in any Wayne county school district. Early in my tenure, the district had significant financial challenges, and by working with the board and with employee groups — which took some significant concessions at that time — we were able to financially restabilize the district and ultimately put it in the advantageous position it is in today. 

“When I was appointed, the district had enrollment of 1,200 students; now it is 1,800. Most of the state has seen declining enrollment in that time, so we were sort of an outlier by showing that level of improvement. We became the first district in Wayne County to become a one-to-one technology district, so there’s a computer for every student. We’re also very proud that the diversity of the staff has grown significantly, and I think a more diverse staff means that we are a far better model for our students.”

The Harper Woods school board now begins the process of finding a new leader for the district. They have made no decision whether the new superintendent will come from within the district or be hired from elsewhere, but Williams said several candidates will be considered.

“We are planning on using (the) Michigan Association of School Boards to aid with our search for a new superintendent,” said Williams. “We are meeting with them in February, will be searching for candidates in March, and will hold interviews in April. We will have a new superintendent hired by July 1.”

Biederwolf said he will always have a special place for Harper Woods in his heart, and he is confident that the district will continue to be successful after he leaves.

“I absolutely so appreciated the passion the people of Harper Woods have for the community and for their schools. I look forward to seeing the continued growth of the district in its academic performance,” said Biederwolf. “It has been an exciting place to live and work, and I am going to miss it.”