Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

April 23, 2014

Interim leader likely for TCAPS

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools likely will have an interim superintendent in place when Stephen Cousins retires as the district’s top administrator at the end of the school year.

Superintendent search committee members intend to recommend the full board appoint TCAPS Associate Superintendent of Finance and Operations Paul Soma for the interim position, board president Kelly Hall said.

Soma will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

“I think it’s a good plan that the committee has come up with, and I think it moves us forward in a positive direction,” Soma said. “If it comes to fruition, I look forward to developing a transition plan with the board.”

Soma’s interim-only status will put internal and external candidates on a level playing field, Hall said.

“The board can focus their attention on doing a search and they don’t have to worry about the person already sitting in the seat,” Soma said. “I certainly will be involved in helping the full-time superintendent transition here.

Board members expressed concerns at their April 14 meeting about beginning a national search so late in the school year because many qualified candidates already solidified their plans for next year.

Having an interim in place gives board members the time they need to agree on a candidate profile and decide if they want to hire a firm to assist in the search for a permanent administrator, Hall said.

“I think this is a reasonable process that allows the board to conduct its most important task -- hiring a superintendent -- in a methodical, transparent matter,” Hall said. “Sometimes the inclination is to go for a quick decision, but this reflects our desire to make the right decision.”

Hall said committee members agreed Soma is the best choice for now because of his depth of knowledge. He’s been with TCAPS for 12 years.

“He’s been here a long time. He’s a trusted member of our community,” she said. “We thought that would allow for continuity and allow the district to continue to work toward the achievement of the strategic plan.”

The superintendent search committee will meet again on April 29 at 5:30 p.m. Hall anticipates the full board will vote on the recommendations at their monthly meeting May 12. All meetings are open to the public.

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