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June 19, 2013

Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education looks toward selecting a new superintendent

Three Rivers Schools office

“Where are we with MASB?  Do we have a meeting scheduled with them?

Superintendent Roger Rathburn and Board President Susan Schmidtendorff during Monday’s Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education meeting during which the process to select a new superintendent came in for discussion. (Click on photo to enlarge)

These questions were posed by Susan Schmidtendorff, president of the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education, during the board meeting Monday evening (June 17).  Her queries came in regard to board action in April to contract with MASB – the Michigan Association of School Boards – to assist in the selection of a new superintendent to succeed Roger Rathburn who has announced his intention to retire from his current position in 2014.  Since then, however, he and Mark Bielang, superintendent of the Paw Paw Public Schools, have surfaced as the two finalists for the superintendent’s job in the Portage Public Schools.  In fact, ‘second interviews’ with both men are scheduled on Wednesday (June 19).

Board Secretary Pete Bennett chairs the Human Resources Subcommittee which recommended that the board work with MASB in the process to select a new school superintendent.

In response to Schmidtendorff’s question, Board Secretary Pete Bennett, who chairs the board’s Human Resources Subcommittee said, “No, we don’t because they were going to contact us for this fall to start the process of community involvement.  I can give them a call.  I was kind of waiting until we find out what’s happening with the white elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about,” a reference to the potential for an early departure by Rathburn if he is the person chosen for the position in Portage.

Schmidtendorff said, “I don’t know that we need to wait for that, or whether that plays a part in it.”  She suggested having board members and others – “a core group” meeting with MASB this summer “where we all sit down and we get a feel for what their process is, what they’re going to expect from us, what we might expect of them, and how that will look on the calendar.”  Schmidtendorff asked Bennett to contact MASB and he said he would do so.

One possibility that emerged from the discussion was scheduling such a session with MASB as part of the board’s organizational meeting on July 15, a meeting slated to begin at 8 a.m., rather than the usual starting time of 7 p.m.  Schmidtendorff also mentioned a 5:30 p.m. gathering, prior to a regular board meeting, and talked about doing it during the summer and not waiting “for the craziness that sets in with fall.”

Bennett noted that, if Rathburn is successful in his quest for the job in Portage, the board may “find ourselves looking for an interim.”  Schmidtendorff said, “That changes the dynamic, but it doesn’t change the fact that we need to start on the process.”

‘Second interviews’ schedule from Portage Public Schools – Wednesday, June 19th, Central High School Community Room

  • 3:00 p.m. – Community Reception for Mark Bielang
  • 3:45 p.m. – Community Reception for Roger Rathburn
  • 4:30 p.m. – Interview of Mark Bielang
  • 7:00 p.m. – Interview of Roger Rathburn

For additional information about the superintendent search process in Portage, click here.


  1. pete bennett

    I have arranged for the MASB Superintendent Search Consultant Richard Dunham to start the process at 8:45 am on July 15 ( the date of our next meeting). We will likely develop a timeline for the process at that time, by which we will know for certain whether or not Roger Rathburn leaves us this July or next July.

  2. Thanks for the update, Pete!

    Bruce Snook
    River Country Journal

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