River Valley superintendent job offered to William Kearney


THREE OAKS — William J. Kearney is the River Valley School Board’s unanimous choice to replace Bob Schroeder as the next superintendent of schools.

The board made the decision to offer Kearney the position after a final review of the three remaining candidates for the job during its May 23 regular meeting.

Currently the principal of Johannesburg-Lewiston High School, located 10 miles east of Gaylord, Michigan, Kearney, who is 53 years old, grew up in Westchester, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, graduating from Proviso West High School.

He attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, on a track scholarship, earning his Bachelors degree in Health & Physical Education in 1979, then transferred to the University of New Orleans, where he obtained a Masters degree in Physical Education in 1982. In 2003, he completed the required coursework to earn his Education Specialist degree in the area of Administration and Supervision from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Kearney has held his present job since 2004. Before that, he served as an Assistant High School Principal for Oscoda Area Schools for two years.

Kearney is married to Debi Kearney, a former legal secretary who currently works as an office aid at an elementary school in the Johannesburg-Lewiston school district. The couple has two sons, both of whom live in the Grand Rapids area: Nathaniel, who works as a paramedic, and Matthew, who is still attending school, studying landscape design.

During his last interview with the board, Kearney was asked what his priorities would be during his first 100 days as superintendent. He cited three: to build relationships, improve student performance, and to promote River Valley.

“Student performance is critical,” he told the board, “but it’s all about relationships — between the board and the superintendent, between the superintendent and the staff, between the staff and parents, between the students and their teachers.”

He also championed the idea of “shared leadership” and “shared ownership.”

“It’s import to be focused on moving forward,” he said, “but sometimes you have better success when you slow down a little and get everyone onboard.”

In other business on May 23, the River Valley School Board:

• Approved a resolution to adopt the district’s 2011-12 budget, which anticipates total revenues of $7,177,706 on top of an existing General Fund balance of $1,967,104. Assuming expenditures in the amount of $7,861,389, the fund’s balance is expected to drop to $1,283,4221 by the end of the next fiscal year on June 30, 2012.

• Recognized the Class of 2011’s top academic seniors. They are: Amanda Clark (Valedictorian), Shelby Francis (Salutatorian), Rachael Conley, Cassandra Bronson, Trevor Gray, Nicholas Rossman, Heather Lockman, Jamie Coar, Kacie Mercer, Mindy Payne and Ingrid Stein. Graduation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, June 3, in the High School Gymnasium.

• Recognized the following staff members who are retiring: Transportation Director Linda Weigel (28 years); Third-Grade Teacher Deborah Burlingame (36 years); Band/Choir Director Robert Hay (37 years); and Superintendent Robert Schroeder (41 years).

• Hired Ryan Kasperski to replace the retiring Robert Hay as the district’s new Band and Choir Director.

• Approved a wireless system upgrade for its two elementary schools at a cost of just over $42,000.

• Was informed that an Illinois family “with strong ties to River Valley” wants to award a scholarship to a current high school senior that will pay for four years of tuition at any college in the United States. School officials hope the guidelines for the scholarship will arrive in time for the scholarship winner to be announced at graduation ceremonies on June 3.

• Approved the hiring of Caleb Dryden as boys’ junior varsity basketball coach and Middle School football coach.

• Approved the hiring of Richard Jasso as junior varsity football coach.

• Accepted a donation of a Personal Finance Curriculum valued at $5,000 from Dave Ramsey.

• Thanked The Pokagon Fund for the many field trips that its board of directors have paid for over the 2010-11 school year.

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