Janesville56.9°

Board picks 3 finalists for superintendent

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
March 15, 2009
— A new superintendent for the Janesville School District could be named as soon as Saturday.

The Janesville School Board on Saturday chose three finalists. They are Robert F. Jones, superintendent of a school district in Michigan; the current interim superintendent, Karen Schulte; and Barbara Williams Thompson, the superintendent of the New Glarus School District.


The school board and two committees will interview the three finalists next Saturday. Then, the board will deliberate and might make its choice the same day, said Steve Salerno, district personnel director, who has been coordinating the process.


The interview committees are a group of district employees and a group of community members.


The board will receive input from the committees before it makes its decision, Salerno said.


The community interview committee comprises Eric Beck, Jane Blain-Gilbertson, Todd Brien, Lisa Furseth, Rich Gruber, the Rev. Michael Jackson, Diane Jacobson, Steve Kennedy Heather Lecrey and Oakleigh Ryan.


The district committee comprises Donna Behn, Jim Dulin, Joe Dye, Tom Imhoff, Mike Kuehne, Dave Parr, Salerno, Kori Settersten, Cindy Squire and Donna Stenner.


The school board met in a closed meeting Saturday to review resumes of six candidates recommended by a search firm. District officials would not reveal the names of the other semifinalists.


The superintendent is expected to take over July 1. If Schulte is not the pick, then it is possible the new superintendent could come in earlier to learn the ropes from Schulte, Salerno said.


A visit to the hometown of the chosen superintendent will be arranged, Salerno said.


Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Glenview, Ill., which conducted the search and selected the six semifinalists, advised the board to make only one site visit.


The site visit should confirm what the board already knows through resume, references and interviews, said Gerald Chapman of HYA.


“The purpose is to confirm what the board has learned about the candidate by visiting people with whom they’ve worked,” Chapman said.


The final agreement to hire the superintendent is contingent on a successful site visit, as well as a background check and mutually agreed-to contract details, Chapman said.


If the site visit raises a red flag, the board still could back out, Chapman said. But the candidates know in advance how the process works, so they are motivated to represent themselves honestly, he added.


Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates will negotiate the new superintendent’s contract, with direction from the school board, Salerno said.


Here are some details of the careers of the three candidates for Janesville public schools superintendent, from their resumes:


Robert F. Jones

Current job: Superintendent of the COOR Intermediate School District. The ISD covers four counties in the northern part of Lower Michigan. Headquartered in Roscommon, Mich., it provides services such as special-ed teachers to a number of school districts and is the link between schools and the Michigan Department of Education, according to its Web site.


Previous experience: Superintendent of Ionia Public Schools, Mich., 1998-2000; superintendent of Godfrey Lee Public Schools, Mich., 1993-1998; executive and organization development administrator for General Motors, 1978-1993; instructor at Spring Arbor College, 1983-85; Public school teacher, 1972-77.


Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and a master’s degree in management, all from Central Michigan University; master’s in business administration and doctorate in educational administration, both from University of Michigan.


Highlights: Jones’ resume states that his educational philosophy is shaped by experiences in business and education. He says a school district must assist in local economic development.


Karen Z. Schulte

Current job: Interim superintendent and director of student services, Janesville School District.


Previous experience: Principal of Beloit Turner Middle School, 1999-2004; assistant principal, Janesville Marshall Middle School, 1997-99; a variety of jobs for the Des Moines (Iowa) Independent School District, 1986-97, including special education teacher, diagnostic and evaluation teacher, unit leader and dean of students; educational consultant, Fort Des Moines Correctional Facility, 1984-86; teacher, Des Moines Area Community College, 1980-84.


Education: Bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree in education/special education, both from Drake University; doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis, UW-Madison.


Highlights: Appointed to lead the district when former superintendent Tom Evert retired early. Her doctoral dissertation was on school violence, bullying and school shootings.


Barbara Williams Thompson

Current job: Superintendent, New Glarus School District.


Previous experience: Coordinator of Alternative Programs Interim, Madison School District, 1999-2000; principal of Lapham Elementary School, Madison, 1990-2003; Fulbright intern in Japan, 1998; principal of Marquette Elementary School, Madison, 1988-90; Madison Area Technical College instructor, 1988-90; work-study supervisor, Madison School District, 1981-85; developed curriculum for Madison public schools, 1981-85; teacher of jail inmates, Dane County Detention, summers 1981-84; special education teacher, Madison schools, 1976-88.


Education: bachelor’s degree in psychology with minor in education, Spelman College, graduating cum laude; master’s degree in behavioral and learning disabilities, UW-Oshkosh; doctorate in educational leadership and policies with minor in rehabilitation psychology, UW-Madison.


Highlight: “extensive experience” in analyzing student test data and “extensive training” in innovative instructional programs and research-based instructional programs; history of successful grant writing.



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