TEMPERANCE — Jon White, Bedford Public Schools' new interim superintendent, told school board members last week that his top priority is restoring staff and community morale at the strapped district, which has undergone the closing of a school building, layoffs, and other cuts in recent years and is bracing for more reductions.
To do this, Mr. White said, he plans to maintain high visibility by visiting school buildings frequently and talking with staff.
Mr. White said he also wanted to expedite the filling of three key administrative positions: superintendent, chief financial officer, and assistant superintendent for instruction and student services.
He also noted that the district was operating under a deficit-elimination plan that must be followed to bring spending into alignment with revenue by the end of the 2014-15 year.
This plan, required by the Michigan Department of Education, contains cuts this school year that include senior high school program changes and the elimination of a school liaison officer.
The interim superintendent said the board and administration must continue to address state mandates in curriculum, finance, and personnel.
“The reporting requirements continue to change ... and we need specialists,” he explained.
Mr. White, 65, took his position Oct. 1 and will have it for the 2012-13 year. He replaces Ted Magrum, who retired. Mr. White is no stranger to the district, however, having retired from it after serving as superintendent, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, high school principal, high school dean of students, and special education teacher.
His is paid $350 a day with no benefits; he is not paid for days he does not work.
In other district news, the board of education's newest member has changed her mind and will not be running as a write-in candidate for a board seat in November.
Jessica Pienta wrote to the board that her duties to her young family, law practice, and other community activities had left her stretched thin, but "I look forward to serving the district at a later phase in my life."
Ms. Pienta was appointed to fill the unfinished term of Kim Hooper, which ends this year, but her appointment was too late for her to place her name on the ballot.
Mr. Hooper, who resigned because he was moving out of the district, made an appearance at the meeting to donate a new podium, which bears the school district's logo on the front.
"It's just a small gift. I did appreciate being on the board," he told board members, adding that, given the district's tight finances, he knew "this was the last thing you'd buy."
— Carl Ryan