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State Board Appoints Michael Rice As State Superintendent

May 7, 2019

LANSING – The State Board of Education today selected Dr. Michael Rice to be Michigan’s next State Superintendent.

Following a full day interviewing three finalists, the State Board voted 5-3 to appoint the 56-year-old Rice, over the other candidates: Wayne RESA Superintendent Randy Liepa, and Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift.

Rice currently is Superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools. Swift is the Superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools, and Liepa is the Superintendent of Wayne RESA.

State Board President Casandra Ulbrich will begin finalizing the employment agreement with Rice, who is expected to start as State Superintendent this summer. The annual salary is set at $216,000.

“Dr. Rice has a stellar reputation in the state of Michigan; he’s been in Kalamazoo for 12 years and has out-of-state experience, as well,” Ulbrich said. “I think the combination of his experience and how well he did in the interviews really put him a step above.

“I don’t think there’s any surprise for him as to what we’re facing here in Michigan, and how far we have to go to get back up to the position we want to be in. He is bringing a strong foundation of education knowledge and leadership at the local school district level, where so much of this work is done. It was a difficult decision for the State Board, yet, we feel he is the best fit to work with the State Board and run the Michigan Department of Education.”

Rice has been the superintendent of the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) since 2007. Prior to serving as KPS superintendent, Dr. Rice served for five years as superintendent of the Clifton Public Schools in Clifton, New Jersey. Among his honors are the presidency of Michigan’s urban schools association, the Middle Cities Education Association, in 2013-14; and the Michigan Superintendent of the Year Award from the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA) in 2016.

Rice began his career as a high school French teacher and award-winning speech and debate program founder and coach in the Washington, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS). He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors from Yale University and a master’s degree and doctorate in public administration with honors from New York University.

He serves on a number of boards, commissions, and committees including the Middle Cities Executive Committee; the MASA State School Reform Commission (SSRC); the Steering and Technical Committee of the state School Finance Research Collaborative; the AASA Social and Emotional Learning Cohort, which he co-chairs; and the board and executive committee of Communities in Schools—Kalamazoo. His most rewarding work, however, comes in the mentoring and teaching of, and informal discussions with, KPS children.

The State Board of Education is granted the responsibility to appoint a State Superintendent by the Michigan Constitution. The State Superintendent is the principal executive officer of the Michigan Department of Education and is chairperson of the State Board without the right to vote and shall be responsible for implementing its policies, and has all the powers and duties provided by law.

The State Superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day management, supervision, and leadership of the Michigan Department of Education. The Superintendent is responsible for developing cooperative working relationships with other government departments; the Governor’s office; the state legislature; and constituent groups, in service of SBE policy and the Michigan’s Top 10 in 10 strategic plan for improving education.

This top education position became open last spring upon the death of State Superintendent Brian Whiston. Chief Deputy Superintendent Sheila Alles was appointed Interim State Superintendent by the State Board at that time.