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New York City education reformer Benjamin Shuldiner picked as new Lansing schools superintendent

Benjamin Schuildiner Lansing Schools next Superintendent
Posted at 3:31 PM, Mar 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-20 20:13:24-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing School District has picked Benjamin Shuldiner as its next superintendent.

The district's Board of Education voted Saturday to enter into contract negotiations with Shuldiner for the position.

"I think he brings a unique perspective where I don’t think he would just come in and wholesale change everything and make us lose the progress we made," said Trustee Dr. Farhan Bhatti. "I think it would be a refreshing way to give us a sort of shot in the arm from my perspective with some new ideas and perspectives.

In a virtual meeting Saturday, the board went over feedback from the candidates referrals and the pros and cons of both finalists.

One of the biggest debates between board members was whether to move forward with someone from outside the district or someone already within it.

“I think we need both things happening," said Trustee Missy Lilje. "We need people who are homegrown, who are really interested in staying here and continuing their lifelong investment in the district. And we need some outside, I think, we need some outside perspective. When those two things come together, we have what is best for the district.”

The motion to enter into negotiations with Shuldiner passed on a 7-2 vote. Board President Gabrielle Lawrence and Vice President Rachel Willis cast the opposing votes for candidate Jessica Benavides, the executive director of improvement and innovation for the district.

Shuldiner was the founder and principal of the High School for Public Service in Brooklyn, New York, and is a dean's fellow at Hunter College City University of New York. He was also a former president of the Association for Supervision of Curriculum Development and was a mayoral appointment to the New York City School Board of Education.

"I am really enthralled with some of the things from Mr. Shuldiner's past that I think would translate well to being a superintendent," Bhatti said. "Whether it’s his history of being a consultant for superintendents across the country, whether its his national and international experience working with schools, whether it’s his experience being an elected member of a school board in like, the largest city in the country."

The board said, after this difficult decision, they want to move forward as one.

“When this meeting is over we will move forward as one Board of Education in support of and in solidarity with our new superintendent," said Board President Gabrielle Lawrence.

Shuldiner said he's looking forward to taking on this position.

“I am honored and privileged to be chosen as the next superintendent of the Lansing School District," Shuldiner wrote. "I want to thank the Board of Education for this incredible opportunity to serve. I look forward to working with the entire Lansing community for many years to come. Together we will do amazing things for the students of Lansing."

The next steps in the process is negotiating a contract with Shuldiner. He is expected to start the job on July 1.

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