Six candidates vie for superintendent position


Public interviews to begin Feb. 19

LEROY — Pine River Area Schools has six candidates in the running for its superintendent position.

Current superintendent Jim Ganger announced his plan in October to retire following the 2013-14 year, and since, the board of education members have been preparing to fill his spot with help from the Michigan Leadership Institute.

A district profile and candidate profile — or a set of requirements and preferred attributes — was created by board members in December and used by the MLI to screen potential candidates nation wide. At a meeting on Feb. 5, board of education members screened 18 applicants and came away with six to be interviewed.

"I think we had a good meeting," said Michigan Leadership Institute Regional President Scott Crosby. "We have a real nice field of candidates with different district-wide experiences."

The interviews for the six will take place starting at 5:45 p.m. on Feb. 19 and 20 in the middle school library. Each interview is expected to take about 75 minutes. Candidates include:

  • Shawn Olson, an elementary school principal with Hillman Community Schools,
  • David Harnish, an elementary school principal and curriculum director with New Lothrop Area Public Schools,
  • Andrew Secor, an elementary school principal with Cedar Springs Public Schools,
  • Matthew Lukshaitis, a high school principal with Mason Consolidated Schools,
  • Dennis Harden, the director of human resources for Groveport Madison Schools in Ohio,
  • Jamey Vermaat, a high school alternative education principal at Northview Public Schools.

"We're really pleased with the candidates we chose to interview," Crosby said. "Every one of them has a master's degree in education or are education specialists. They were all educationally sound."

The wide range of candidates at an early time is beneficial, he added, because if the board chooses a candidate for the position by next month, that individual has an opportunity to gain experience while Ganger is still superintendent.

According to Jim Peterson, PRAS board president, the individuals the board choose to interview looked like high achievers.

"We were pretty unanimous on about four of the candidates, which was nice," Peterson said. "It's hard for a person to convey a passion for being an education on paper."

Crosby's work and professionalism during the search has been an asset to the board, he added. Because of this, board members are fairly certain they have their next superintendent in the selected candidates.

"We certainly want someone who has a great rapport with people and is a great school leader," Peterson said. "They have to be in tune with the direction of schools and a representative of the schools in all respects. We also want someone to make a commitment in terms of time."

Once a candidate is selected, it's possible a three-year contract will be offered.

Following the public interviews on Feb. 19 and 20, finalists will be interviewed a second time on Monday, Feb. 24, which also is open to the public.