Kalamazoo superintendent finalist for state job


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The leader of Kalamazoo Public Schools is among the finalists to be the next state superintendent.

Five candidates were interviewed Wednesday and the field was narrowed to three. The finalists include Michael Rice, who has been with KPS since 2007; Brenda Cassellius, the Minnesota commissioner of education; and Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift.

While Rice has been superintendent of KPS, the district has seen graduation rates rise, enrollment has grown by 13% and minorities’ enrollment in AP classes has skyrocketed. Rice made the case to the state Board of Education that his leadership style is customer-focused and those customers are the kids.

“I’m driven. I’m focused. I’m pragmatic,” he said. “One could argue a little bit edgy. But it’s edginess in support of children. There are 1.5 million children in the state. There are 13,200 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in Kalamazoo. We can do better by our kids, not simply in Kalamazoo, but in the state. And it’s that edginess that I think drives me.”

The finalists will be interviewed again May 7.

Whoever is selected will replace Brian Whiston, who died last year after a battle with cancer.

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