Three superintendent finalists continue on
By Lisa Brody
With a decision by the Birmingham Schools Board of Education scheduled for Tuesday, June 15, three finalists for the superintendent position presented their plans for the future of the district and answered various stakeholder groups on Tuesday, June 1, and will participate in virtual tours of their current districts next week.
Birmingham Public Schools is in the process of searching and interviewing for a new superintendent following the resignation of superintendent Mark Dziatczak February 23, following an extended medical leave of absence which began in October 2020. George Heitsch was appointed interim superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year, after being superintendent of the Farmington and Avondale school districts. Following Dziatczak's resignation, the board of education immediately began the superintendent search process, ending with three finalists, Dr. Stephen Bigelow, superintendent, Bay City Public Schools; Benjamin Mainka, superintendent, Swartz Creek Community Schools; and Dr. Embekka Roberson, assistant superintendent for Student Learning & Inclusion, Birmingham Public Schools.
Bigelow has been the superintendent of Bay City Public Schools since 2017, where he completed their five-year strategic plan in three years, rebranded and restructured the district, moved the district from Department of Treasury Fiscal Distress status to 16 percent fund balance, and opened Early College and Early Middle College programs in collaboration with intermediate school district.
Prior to becoming superintendent in Bay City, he was superintendent of Capac Community Schools, and principal of schools in Warren and Sterling Heights. He began his career as an elementary teacher in S. Lyon.
Maika has been superintendent of Swartz Creek Community Schools since 2016. He was associate director of Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, 2015-2016, and previously a principal in Hartland and Fowlerville.
He said he has four basic beliefs or principles he holds for education: that character matters; all students can learn; we control the conditions for success; and educators, schools and districts are either improving or declining.
Roberson became the assistant superintendent for Student Learning & Inclusion in 2020 after being principal of Groves High School from 2017-2020. She was previously principal of Harlan Elementary School from 2008-2017; she began her career as a fourth grade teacher in Detroit Public Schools. In her current position, she oversees, coordinates, and supervises curriculum planning, implementation, and evaluation; assessment and standardized testing administration; program development and evaluation; career and vocational education; and professional learning for staff, and provides strategic leadership regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
On Tuesday, June 1, all three candidates presented their 90 or 120-day plans to the board and answered additional questions. They also participated in community, administrative and staff focus groups.
Next week, the board will participate in virtual tours of the candidates' districts, and speak with individuals the candidates have chosen to have further conversations with.
“Our board will have a very difficult decision to make. This puts us in a very good boat,” said district spokesperson Anne Cron. “We were very pleasantly surprised about the pool of candidates.”
The board is scheduled to make their final decision on the next superintendent for the district at their meeting on Tuesday, June 15.
Members of the community can watch meetings and previous interviews on their YouTube channel, YouTube.com/BirminghamPS.