TRAVERSE CITY — Although the future long-term leader of Traverse City Area Public Schools has yet to be determined, the district’s board of education moved forward with approving the goals for the superintendent for the remainder of 2020.
At the top of the list, which was settled Monday night, is the district’s continued push for establishing the Blueprint as the “clear strategy” for TCAPS moving forward. The Blueprint is a framework for how TCAPS is working to shift the focus to meet both the academic and non-academic needs of every student — a move formally adopted by the board in January 2019.
Interim Superintendent Jim Pavelka said the district will keep the Blueprint at the forefront of its focus, despite whatever school improvement plan is handed down from the state level. Pavelka said the teachers and administrators often panic when the state introduces new measures, and he believes the Blueprint will help calm those concerns and streamline those updates.
“The state changes and away we go. We’re not doing that in Traverse City anymore. That’s all over,” Pavelka said. “We’re taking the new plans and putting it on our platform. ... If I don’t leave the district with anything else, that will be a great legacy.”
The district’s focus on the Blueprint was at issue in March 2019 when board trustees were discussing the criteria they wanted to set for the future superintendent. Trustee Erica Moon Mohr, at the time, said emphasizing the Blueprint in the criteria was “going to be detrimental to our district.”
Moon Mohr did not return a call for additional comment Tuesday, but — during the meeting Monday — she asked when and how the goals were created.
“I’ve served on the board for a year, and I’ve never once been part of any process of setting goals or looking at the evaluation or having any input,” Moon Mohr said.
Board President Sue Kelly the goals were not developed by the board, but instead were “superintendent-specific goals.”
“In 2018, we looked at the future and where we going in line with the superintendent evaluation form. In 2019, there were some general goals that were similar to this presented district-wide, knowing we were going to have a new superintendent,” Kelly said. “These have been modified by our superintendent and recommended as the goals he’s going to be working on for the next six months.”
The goals, which also include continuing projects set out in the district’s capital improvement plan that was buoyed by a successful $107 million bond proposal in 2018 and sustaining community engagement and communication, were on Pavelka’s desk and “inherited,” he said.
“I met with staff. I talked about ‘em. I said they looked good,” Pavelka said, indicating he made some minor changes. “I don’t want to change a lot. A lot of these are tied to our strategic plan. ... They fit in with where we’re going.”
Kelly also could not be reached for additional comment, including for information about who originally wrote the goals and if those goals extend to the future superintendent.
Trustees hope to have Pavelka’s replacement in place by July 1.
Finding a new superintendent is set to start in earnest when representatives from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates — the firm hired by TCAPS to lead the search — presents to the board Monday, Feb. 17. Those reps, including Jim Morse, will also lead open forums at Traverse City Central High School on Feb. 18 and Traverse City West Middle School on Feb. 19. Both events are scheduled for 6 p.m.
Board members finalized the contract with HYA during the meeting Monday. The cost includes a $21,500 base fee along with “reasonable additional expenses.” Trustees voiced some concern about the cost of background checks, social media relations and advertisements.
Pavelka mentioned the possibility of setting a specific dollar amount the district would be authorized to spend on the search. Associate Superintendent Christine Thomas-Hill cautioned against that, saying the board would have to call a special meeting to authorize going over that set amount.
“In the interest of time, I would just say that you’ll have conversations about what packages and services you want, but that the board president would have the authorization to sign that contract and authorize the fees,” Thomas-Hill said.
Monday’s meeting with HYA is slated for 6 p.m. in Conference Room C at the TCAPS Administration Center.