By Tom Tolen /

A committee of the Brighton Board of Education journeyed to a couple of Southeast Michigan school districts this past week to interview various groups about one of the three finalists for the Brighton superintendent’s position.

In addition, the committee met locally with the same groups regarding Brighton Assistant Superintendent for Labor Relations and Personnel Sharon Irvine, who is also a finalist for the position. The committee consisted of board Vice President Alicia Reid, Secretary Roger Myers and Trustee Ken Stahl.

The three finalists are vying for the position vacated when Greg Gray officially retired on June 30th, marking the end of 11 highly successful and laudatory years as Brighton superintendent. Besides Irvine, they include Brandon School District Superintendent Matthew Outlaw and Swartz Creek Community Schools Superintendent Benjamin Mainka.

The interview sessions were originally to have happened last Monday through Wednesday, but due to schedule conflicts ended up taking place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Stahl said the groups interviewed by the committee included school district administrators, board of education members, teachers, and community groups. The Brighton committee posed a set of questions to the groups to which individuals in each group responded. Stahl said the home districts’ representatives “were all very accommodating,” adding all of the groups were “very happy” with the official in question and that none had anything negative to say. On one occasion during the site visits, Stahl asked if there were anything the candidate could get better at, to which one person half-jokingly replied, “Yes - not leaving the school district!”

Stahl said that even though Brighton teachers are in the middle of contentious negotiations on the salary aspects of their current contract, they were nonetheless “very gracious” in assessing Irvine, who is the chief negotiator for the Brighton Area Schools in the talks.

The committee was to compile a written report to be distributed to all of the board members so they can digest its contents prior to a special meeting on Wednesday, at which time they are scheduled to choose a new superintendent. Stahl said the report will not contain a recommendation for a specific candidate to be hired, but will leave it up to the board as a whole to select the individual it wants for the position.

Stahl said the site visits were “a great experience,” and have given him a different perspective on how public school districts operate — and how they fit in the broader community.