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Birmingham, Bloomfield Superintendents Talk Back-to-School, High School Consolidation

Birmingham Superintendent Daniel Nerad and Bloomfield Hills Superintendent Robert Glass met for a Back-to-School Breakfast and discussion forum Wednesday morning.

Whether it's working on the transition plan for the soon-to-come Bloomfield Hills High School School or merely getting acquainted with the district, the superintendents for and Bloomfield Hills Public Schools are eager to dive into the 2012-13 school year.

That was the message at the third-annual Wednesday morning, a forum discussion featuring Birmingham's newly hired superintendent Daniel Nerad and Bloomfield Hills Superintendent Robert Glass.

It was standing room only during the hour-long event — held at the and hosted by the and Birmingham Eccentric — as educators, administrators and community members came out to ask questions and hear what's coming for both districts.

"The quality of a school district bears greatly on our community and our property values," said chamber president Joe Bauman. "Everyone should care about what's going on in our schools."

Nerad outlines plan to learn about the district

Nerad first said he was happy to be a part of the Birmingham family — as the former superintendent for the Madison Metropolitan School District, and began working in the district in early August.

Nerad noted that for many issues, he doesn't have answers yet as he's still learning about the district, the community and its students. At the Aug. 14 school board meeting, Nerad said he's currently working on a three-month superintendent transition plan, during which he'll assess the work already being done in Birmingham and develop ideas for improving.

Still, Nerad said he's a big believer that schools reflect their community and vice versa — and Birmingham has already begun to impress him.

"I'm very biased by the view that as go schools, so goes community," he said. "Schools that support communities, those communities support schools."

Nerad said he's anxious to meet as many community members as possible in the next few months to both identify the perceptions people have of Birmingham Schools and its strengths.

"I hope many of the programs in place will continue," he said. "But I also believe that the needs of our kids call for us to look at how well we're doing."

As for what kind of leader he'll be in Birmingham, Nerad said he hopes to be the same type of leader he was in Madison — calm and fair.

Nerad emerges from a contentious time in Madison — in Feburary 2011, he was superintendent during a four-day teachers' strike. In addition, disagreements with the school board there led Nerad to announce earlier this year that he wouldn't be extending his contract when it was up for renewal.

"I hope in any challenging times, I can provide a calm," he said. "But above all, these aren't Dan Nerad's public schools. These are the community's public schools."

Glass talks high school consolidation plans

What's the biggest challenge ahead for the Bloomfield Hills Public School District? According to Glass, it's beginning that transition process from two high schools to one, as the district prepares to combine Lahser and Andover into one, districtwide high school.

"We want to ensure a smooth transition," Glass said. "We'll be planning for a different kind of high school experience."

"We don't want to drop any balls along the way," he added, "because these are individual students' lives."

Last year, the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education decided the two high schools would merge in 2013, and placed a $59 million millage proposal for a mostly-new facility to be built on the current Andover site on the ballot. The measure passed overwhelmingly in May, and plans to open the new Bloomfield Hills High School by 2015 are under way.

Glass addressed several questions regarding the consolidation, noting that beginning next school year, Bloomfield's Model Academy will move to Pine Lake Elementary School during a two-year transition period. Upon the completion of the new Bloomfield Hills High School, the school will move into a separate facility on the new high school's campus.

In addition, Glass said he's open to the community's ideas as for ways to make the transition easier, including ways that students can jump in and serve as mentors for younger students at the new school.

For more on the Back-to-School Breakfast, visit .

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