District kicking off superintendent search with community survey

Students read through a book together in a Byron Center classroom. The district is beginning the process of hiring a new superintendent

What qualifications would you like to see in a superintendent? That’s the question the Board of Education is asking in creating a candidate profile to use in searching for a new superintendent.

A community survey was emailed this week through district communications and posted on the district website.

Superintendent Dan Takens, who has served in the role for 11 years, announced in August that he is retiring Dec. 31. The board also plans to host community meetings to create the profile. Kent ISD Superintendent Ron Caniff and consultant Mike Washburn, former superintendent of Forest Hills, will assist with meetings

Community meetings are:

  •  6:30PM-7:30 p.m.Thursday, Sept. 12 at Brown Elementary School, 8064 Byron Center Ave. SW.
  •  6:30PM-7:30 p.m.Tuesday, Sept.17, 2019 West Middle School, 8654 Homerich Ave SW.

“The board is stressing transparency,” Takens said. “We want to make sure the community is part of the process,” he added, noting that input is welcome from all community stakeholders.

Dan Takens

The board will discuss takeaways from the survey and future steps at its 5:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23 work session.

“We value the community’s perspective and we are elected by the community and want their input about the direction we should go,” said Board President Marty Phelan.

The board will also determine how broadly to search for candidates in the state, nation or internally.

“I would anticipate there would be a lot of interest in the position. Byron Center is a great place to be,” Takens said.

Phelan said the board could possibly hire a superintendent to be in place by Jan. 2 if there is a stand-out candidate. Another option is to name an interim superintendent with the ultimate goal of having someone in place no later than May 1, he said.

‘We want to make sure the community is part of the process.’ — retiring Superintendent Dan Takens

Takens said he feels good about leaving the district in a good place, and is proud of its strong culture and  high achievement. “You just kind of know when you know,” he said, about retiring. He said he’s ready to explore new pathways.

“This job is 24-7, 365 days a year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that next chapter. … I always felt like it was my calling from God to serve.”

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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