Saline Board of Education Taps Michigan Leadership Institute in Search for New Superintedent


The Saline Area Schools Board of Education took another step forward Tuesday night in the search to replace former Superintendent Scot Graden, voting to hire the Michigan Leadership Institute to aid in seeking out a new top boss for the district.

The MLI bills itself as the “foremost provider of high quality, research-based leadership services in Michigan,”

Last week, trustees heard from three potential suitors in regard to the search process, but by Tuesday had narrowed their options to two based on presentations from David Killips of MLI and Jay Bennett of the Michigan Association of School Boards.

Board Vice President Michael McVey said he believed either would be a good fit and offer similar results.

“I got to tell you we were split right down the middle on pretty much every topic,” he said. “Honestly, there was no daylight between them, so I’m comfortable going along with either of those two.”

Trustee Aramide Boatswain said neither MASB nor MLI appealed to her as being an obvious choice.

“I can’t say that I’m fully comfortable with MASB because I was underwhelmed. I expected a bit more from that presentation,” Boatswain said. “And I did have some mixed feelings about MLI.”

Boatswain voiced concerns over what she worries would be a lack of equity and inclusiveness in the pool of candidates involved.

“Both of them did not show me that we would be getting what we’re looking for,” she said, questioning whether either firm would truly do the board’s bidding without the need for constant oversight of the selection process.

Other board members, including Secretary Susan Estep and Trustee Jenny Miller said they have similar apprehensions.

“What I will say is that, at the end of the day, they would be working for us,” Miller said regarding the board’s final authority in vetting and choosing the new superintendent.

Board President Jennifer Steben said several factors influenced her ultimate decision to favor MLI, including a feeling of “authenticity” as well as an entire segment of Killips’ presentation dedicated to students and their needs as the process plays out.

“Sometimes I might feel personally one way on an issue or vote or doing something, but I think when it comes to this, I need to vote for the company or organization that, if the public was able to vote on this, having the information, that they would have me vote for MLI,” she said.

After a lengthy discussion, five members of the board voted to place MLI in the space left blank on the associated motion item, with Estep and Boatswain voting for MASB.

On the subsequent action item vote, all seven board members voted in agreement to offer a contract to MLI.

Now that she has the board’s approval to initiate a contract with MLI, Steben said she will reach out and report back if anything changes.

According to the proposal shared at the previous meeting, MLI is charging the district a flat fee of $6,000, with additional direct expenses not to exceed $1,000.

As previously reported in The Post, Killips outlined a search process to last approximately 10 weeks and promised to work very closely with the board to find a best-fit candidate for the district.

The next regular meeting of the Saline Area Schools Board of Education will be held Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m.

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