After more than seven hours of interviews and discussion, the Birmingham Board of Education selected Daniel Nerad and Robert Shaner as finalists for the soon-to-be vacant superintendent position at .
Nerad is the outgoing superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, WI, while Shaner is currently the executive director of instruction and technology at the Warren Consolidated School District.
The school board is looking to replace Superintendent David Larson, .
Not advancing will be Fred Procter, principal of Birmingham's ; John Maloy, superintendent with the Aspen School District in Aspen, CO; and Richard Machesky, assistant superintendent of secondary instruction for the Troy School District.
The school board interviewed the five semifinalists Wednesday and Thursday and made their decision at a special meeting Saturday morning. The two finalists will now return for additional interviews next week.
Nerad praised for his 'courage, humility and patience'
For the seven members of the Birmingham Board of Education, there was a clear consensus for moving one of the finalists forward: Nerad.
Nerad has been superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District since 2008; before that, he served as superintendent in Green Bay, WI for six years. Before working for Green Bay schools, Nerad worked as a social worker, earning both his bachelor and master's degree in the subject.
Nerad announced in late March that he wouldn't be seeking an extension of his contract in Madison, which will expire next June, due to what Nerad called "divisiveness" in the community over certain contentious issues.
Still, he began his interview Thursday night noting that he was a "public educator deep down," a point which resonated with many on the school board.
"His life work is around serving children," Trustee Lori Soifer said, adding "he has demonstrated courage, humility and patience in dealing with his current situation" in Madison.
Trustee Steve Scheidt agreed, calling Nerad a "man of substance" who has lived through a challenging and controversial period but who is still focused on creating consensus among the community.
Trustee Michael Fenberg noted that Nerad was named the 2006 Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year while Trustee Robert Lawrence said that Nerad's experience is unmatched.
"You don't do social work unless you're all about kids," he said.
Shaner praised for his unconventional background, strong leadership
The second top pick for school board members was Shaner, an unconventional candidate, trustees noted, with a wealth of recommendations as a strong and convicted leader.
Before assuming the role of executive director of instruction and technology with the Warren Consolidated School District, Shaner was the principal at Sterling Heights High School for six years, where he helped lift the school from academic probation to exceeding state benchmarks. In 2006, Shaner was named the Michigan Principal of the Year.
But it was the path Shaner took to education that left the largest impression on school board members. For 12 years, Shaner served as a captain in the U.S. Marines before then becoming a police detective with the .
He then moved into teaching while also serving as a Gerstacker Fellow at Saginaw Valley State University, a year-long program dedicated to developing leadership skills.
"I was impressed with his global perspective," said Soifer, "as well as his deliberate and thoughtful decision to go into education. He feels he has a moral obligation to have a profound impact on the lives of children."
Trustee Geri Rinschler noted Shaner's tenacity, persistence and passion while Trustee Chris Conti said Shaner is clearly tenacious, project-oriented and methodical in his work ethic.
"He's someone I'd want to be in the trenches with," Conti said.
Final interviews scheduled for next week
Shaner and Nerad will now return for additional interviews with both the school board and community members next week. All interviews will be televised live on Birmingham's channel 17.
"Meet the Candidate" forums are scheduled for 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, followed by candidate presentations and a second hour-long interview from 5:45-7 p.m. both nights.
The school board is scheduled to select a final candidate at 7 p.m. June 11 with the intent of having a new superintendent in place by July 1.
All interviews from Wednesday and Thursday are now streaming from 1-11 p.m. on channel 17, Birmingham spokeswoman Marcial Wilkinson said. Videos of the five interviews will also be on the district's website Monday.
Check out Birmingham Schools Superintendent Search 2012 for more on Birmingham Public Schools' search for a new superintendent this spring and summer.