By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – A candidate search for the next top administrator of Taylor School District that began nearly a year ago came to an end last week with the appointment of Ben Williams as the successor to retiring Supt. Diane Allen.
The district board of education Jan. 25 offered the position to Williams, 46, who expects to begin service in late May or June after concluding his current role as superintendent for Central Lake Schools.
Williams said he appreciated the confidence shown him by the board, and in turn was impressed with the “excitement and energy in the staff.” The district, he said, is ready to move forward after a period of challenges that had impacted most school systems in the state.
“I moved to Michigan in 2007,” said Williams, whose career began in North Carolina. The jobs he took – first in Saline before donning multiple hats at Central Lake – were challenged by declining enrollments and reduced state funding. While interviewing for the position this month Williams understood the issues facing the larger Taylor district.
“There are more similarities than there are differences,” Williams said. “However, things are stabilizing. I look forward to the transition and getting to know the team there.”
Williams was twice interviewed by panelists along with a consultant from Michigan Association of School Boards that officials brought in to help with the search last year.
Allen early in 2015 announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2014-15 academic year. An initial superintendent search conducted by the board failed to identify a successor, and Allen agreed to remain in place through the 2015-16 school year before ending her 40-plus years of education and administration.
Six candidates were interviewed during public sessions earlier this month before last week’s second round of questions with Williams, Doni St. Amour and Mary Ann Cyr.
Williams – who serves as the athletic director among other roles at Central Lake – expects to make several visits to Taylor over the next several weeks to confirm a starting date, meet staff and administrators and consult with Allen during a transition period.
The board reportedly will offer a final contract of about $130,000 to Williams at its Feb. 8 meeting.
Although Taylor is a considerably larger district, Williams said the fundamentals of the job remain consistent, as do its priorities.
“The challenge is to keep our eyes on the prize and do the best we can for the staff and make sure the kids are enriched and educated,” Williams said.
(James Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)