Finch to leave MOISD

BIG RAPIDS — For the past 12 years, Curt Finch has led the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District as superintendent. This role will come to an end on July 1, as Finch has accepted a new position, which will bring him closer to his family on the west coast.

"I've been here 12 years. I'm the second-longest serving ISD superintendent this district has ever had," he said. "This is going to be disrupting the system, which happens when you choose a new leader, it doesn't matter who it is. What we are trying to do is be thoughtful of the next leader."

At the next MOISD Board of Education meeting, Monday, June 12, Finch will deliver his retirement letter to board members. From there, an interim superintendent will be chosen to fill Finch's shoes as he moves to take the lead of Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix.

"It's a big district," he said. "It's a bit different. It's a local district, which is different from this type of arrangement, but it's 35,000 students, 38 campuses and 4,000 employees.

"This job is unique. Here, at the MOISD, we have all the responsibility and no authority over all the districts. So my job is really trying to get everyone to work together, which is important in a large system. In a system like Deer Valley Unified School District, they have five high schools with 2,500 students in them, they can all become their own kingdoms. You have to get them to all think as one. That's what this job has taught me. Working together is better for the kids."

Working together with local districts has helped keep opportunities open for students, Finch said, and MOISD staff have collaborated to make the programs a success.

"Over the 12 years I've been here, half to two-thirds of the staff here are new and that has been a plus in being able to help shape the organization over time," he said. "You get to hire people who believe in your philosophy and in the direction you are headed. We are a service organization, so we are only as effective as our staff is. I think that's one of the main reasons we have been so effective, our staff really gets the idea that the needs of others are more important than the needs of ourselves."

Finch believes the MOISD is the most cooperative district in the state because the staff, local superintendents and boards of education work together. He credits this cooperation to the district doing well during the economic recession in 2008.

"The economy melt down was a big challenge," he said. "We really tried to protect the classrooms and students as much as possible, and tried to still keep the programs. We had to trim the budgets together, including the local school districts, to keep us on the cutting edge, providing services for our students and surviving on the other end. Because we worked together and because we were forward-thinking as a unit, we not only survived, but I think we thrived during those tough times."

While the recession may have been one of the larger challenges Finch has faced in his time here, he said the district also had to be ready when the legislature would throw something new the ISD's way. Now, Finch is moving on to test his administrative skills elsewhere.

"It's a new challenge," he said. "There will be complex systems I will be looking at. I enjoy puzzles and solving riddles and that's what this is going to be like. This will be on a bigger scale.

"I'm completely satisfied with where this organization is at. We've got great people. I'm not worried about it one bit. The MOISD is going to do just fine and excel when I head out."

Finch came to the MOISD from Alaska with five years of experience and working in Michigan for the past 23 years.

"You can retire at 30 years here in Michigan. I've got 31. It made sense to try a new state and some new adventures. I'm looking forward to it. I want to thank the community, ISD staff, local staff, superintendents and the Board of Education for providing this opportunity for me. These were the best years of my life. I've loved every minute of it.

"The Hedgehog (MOISD mascot) Nation is in great hands and I look forward to hearing about the many adventures they have ahead."