By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — Contract negotiations are complete and District 7 Schools has a new superintendent.
Tecumseh Public Schools Director of Curriculum and Technology Todd Thieken will be the next superintendent beginning July 1.
The D7 Board of Education voted 5-0 to approve the contract offered to Thieken at its June 2 meeting. Vice President David Mack and Trustee Virginia Morgan were absent from the meeting.
The details of the contract have not been announced, but Thieken attended the meeting and sat with the board and current Supt. Jeffrey Bartold.
Thieken said he will spend as much time as possible working side-by-side with Bartold before he retires at the end of July.
Bartold has been the superintendent at D7 since 2006 and prior to that served as the district’s business manager, a role he has occupied the last two years as the district has worked to cut operational costs and lift itself out of a $1.4 million deficit.
Thieken said no final decision has been made regarding whether the district will hire a new business manager moving forward.
“That’s something the school board and myself will have to sit down and talk about,” Thieken said.
After the meeting, Thieken said he plans to spend the next three months learning everything that he can about the district and opening lines of communication.
“It’s tough because there are only two weeks of school left, but I will spend them meeting with different teaching and administrative groups and listening to what they have to say about where they see the district going,” Thieken said. “I also want to be in the buildings to get a feel for the schools and see the interaction between students and teachers.”
Thieken said that actually getting into the buildings and classrooms and observing what is happening has helped keep him in touch with school operations as an administrator, which he has been for the last 16 years.
“The farther you get away from kids the tougher your job is because that is what gives the job life,” Thieken said. “If you’re just sitting in your office all day and you’re not out there working with the kids you can lose touch with what’s going on in the schools.”
Thieken spent his first eight years in education as a business teacher.
Outside of learning the district, Thieken said he will be working to introduce himself to the community.
“I want to celebrate and sell all of the great things that are happening in this district to the community,” Thieken said. “As the superintendent, I have to make sure that every last person has a vested interest in this district.”
Trustee Cary Thompson said he enjoyed talking to all five candidates the board interviewed last month, but that he felt the best fit for the district was chosen in Thieken.
He said that while it was nice to have a new superintendent lined up, it would be hard to say goodbye to Bartold.
“Jeff has been a great superintendent for our district and we’ll miss him,” Thompson said. “It’s been a good administration under him and they are big shoes to fill, but we will help Todd as much as we can as a board.”
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)