Michael Rice

Kalamazoo superintendent chosen to lead Michigan education department

May 9, 2019
Michael Rice will the next Michigan superintendent of schools

Kalamazoo School Superintendent Michael Rice has been selected to be the next state superintendent of schools in Michigan.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the State Board of Education chose Rice, 56, after a second round of interviews in Lansing.

Rice and Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift were among three finalists brought in for a second round of interviews. Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency Superintendent Randy Liepa also returned for a second round after candidate Brenda Cassellius was appointed Boston Public Schools superintendent and withdrew her name from consideration for the Michigan job.

School board member Judy Pritchett applauded Rice’s “thorough” and specific answers about improving education, including specifics on how achievement gaps were addressed under his leadership at Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Prior to becoming superintendent in Kalamazoo in 2007, Rice served for five years as superintendent of the Clifton Public Schools in New Jersey. He began his career as a high school French teacher in the Washington D.C. public school system.

The board expects Rice to begin in the position July 1. He will be offered a $216,000 salary.

Rice’s base salary as Kalamazoo’s superintendent in the 2018 calendar year was $252,107, according to the Kalamazoo Public Schools website.

During Rice's interview, board members wrote questions onto cards read by the board president so that board members coold submit questions anonymously. One such anonymously submitted question said some are critical of Rice's leadership style, and suggested he "created fear" in Kalamazoo.

Rice responded by saying there are more than 2,000 employees in the district and that no one is "uniformly loved as a leader." He said he is "constantly engaged" with students, staff and parents and meets regularly with various school administrators, teacher representatives and advisory boards.

During Rice’s 12-year tenure as superintendent, the Kalamazoo district has grown by more than 1,300 students, and the number of schools increased from 22 to 26.

Rice started full-day pre-kindergarten programs and quintupled the district’s number of full-day kindergarten students. He also more than doubled the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and increased high school graduation rates.

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