Amy Jo Kinyon
The Olivet Board of Education voted Monday evening to offer the leadership role in the district to Rocky Aldrich. Aldrich is the current superintendent of Ubly Public Schools and beat out five other candidates for the superintendent position.
Two rounds of interviews and a site visit to the home districts of the top two candidates were performed before a selection was made. The decision weighed heavily on the minds of the board members who said they are looking for a consistent leader who will work with staff and community members to strengthen the district in a variety of areas.
“This is one of our three key jobs as a board — to pick a superintendent,” said board president Greg O’Dell prior to the vote. “Who will lead the district? They are both exceptional candidates. We have to choose who is the best fit for the district.”
The unanimous, 7-0 vote by the board came after lengthy discussions concerning the final two candidates, Aldrich and Jeff Wright, principal at Greenville High School. Board trustee Anthony Faulkner said there are several factors needed to run a district, with curriculum experience and financial responsibility ranking among the top factors. He, along with fellow board treasurer John Vanator performed the site visits.
“Olivet’s in a great situation in some areas and not in others,” said Faulkner. “We are in a worse situation than what I think the public is aware.”
Vanator echoed Faulkner’s sentiments and explained that Aldrich’s current district is similar to Olivet, making it easier for Aldrich to step into the superintendent position with ease.
“Rocky is who we are, he really is,” Vanator told the board. “The same culture, same outlook, same town minus the college — he is us. I think Rocky is the safe vote. I don’t really know if we’re always supposed to do safe.”
Vanator also stressed the need for financial leadership for the district as it works to balance budgets and maintain educational standards.
For board trustee Dan LaPoint, Jr., the possibility of five new faces on the board after the election in November, combined with school staff who are new to leadership roles, influenced his vote for Aldrich.
“The fact of the matter is that five board seats are coming up for election and I can’t say that any of these guys will be here next year,” LaPoint said. “Brock’s (Peters) our most senior principal and he’s screaming for help. It comes down to stability, and that comes from the wisdom of experience and I think Rocky brings that.”
Aldrich brings with him a long list of that experience, including 11 years as a superintendent, a teacher of all levels K-12, principal positions at elementary, middle and high school levels, transportation director, athletic director and maintenance supervisor.
Aldrich has served for seven years in his current position and said he is looking forward to the change and challenge Olivet will bring. Among the reasons for applying, Aldrich cited the quality leadership present in the community and welcoming atmosphere.
“(I) like what I have learned about Olivet: Progressive, award winning, community location. Board of education is committed to excellence for their district,” wrote Aldrich in an email after being notified of the board decision. “(I) have spent time with (the) current superintendent and administration. Olivet has some quality leaders and I am looking forward to being part of the team. Everyone was extremely polite and friendly.”
He explained that his leadership style stems from a desire to serve the students, district and community.
“Every staff member has an important role and is valuable to the district. Community and staff can expect me to maintain a focus on student achievement and moving the district forward,” wrote Aldrich.
Aldrich now moves into contract negotiations with the district before officially taking the helm.