Coldwater schools names Paul Flynn as next superintendent
COLDWATER — After a second round of interviews Thursday night, Sandusky Community Schools Superintendent Paul Flynn was the unanimous choice of the Coldwater Community School Board as its next leader.
Flynn will replace Terry Whelan when she retires as superintendent June 30. The board personnel committee will now begin negotiations on a contract with Flynn.
Flynn recently was a finalist for superintendent in Livingston County's Fowlerville Community Schools. The district, however, selected another finalist in February.
Flynn was hired as Sandusky superintendent in 2017. The Sandusky Community Schools board of education opted to not extend Flynn's contract in February; they did not publicly disclose a reason.
Flynn and Jeff Terpenning, superintendent at Capac Community Schools, spent Thursday meeting with staff and touring facilities with board members.
Both praised what Coldwater provided for its students.
More: Final interviews set for Coldwater Schools superintendent
Each then presented 90-day plans on how they would begin the job as head of the 2,800-student system and by answering board questions.
Flynn previously has served as the Yale Public Schools principal for seven years. He has a degree from Saginaw Valley State University in education specialist and central office administration.
Flynn won board praise after fielding a question regarding Senate Bill 4, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Thursday that expands the state's civil rights law to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a change long sought by LGBTQ advocates.
More:Gov. Whitmer signs bill expanding Michigan civil rights law to include LGBTQ protections
The question was how Flynn sees the new law affecting enforcement of Title IX and the district's athletics programs.
“We're here for kids and every decision that I make, every decision that a building administrator makes, or every decision that these board members make should be what is best for kids," Flynn said, "and not just a kid, but all of the kids in the district.”
He said he didn't anticipate immediate issues regarding the rights of transgender student-athletes, citing the fact that, in the past 10 years, there were only eight transgender athletes in the state in competition.
Flynn does not believe the issue will explode across the state. If it does locally, “we will address it with full transparency and honesty, and we will make decisions. And I can tell you — not all decisions are popular.”
Flynn told the board he believes in building relationships throughout the community. He feels social media can be used to inform and point out the strengths and benefits of schools to the community.
A proponent of following the chain of command both up and down the system, he wants everyone involved handling complaints and dealing with the parents and public.
For staff, he said, “bring me solutions,” and stressed that he wants to empower “all levels to affect the kids.”
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Board member Jeff Holbrook was impressed that Flynn “has a plan” to deal with the loss of state and federal funds given to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. “He has the experience we are looking for.”
"Because we didn't account for that" to sustain programs, "you really have to use data to work with the board and to work with the business office to figure out the best plans for the future," he said.
One of eight children in a family that grew up in Hillsdale County, Flynn said he still has two brothers living in the area. He said he wants to move closer to the area and closer to his daughter, now in law school in Indianapolis.
Strong on family, Flynn became the superintendent in Sandusky — in Michigan's thumb — after he was a Yale school teacher and then principal before moving into the top job in nearby district.
His wife, a science teacher in Yale, will retire in a few months.
He said his best year was 2017, when his daughter was a senior, son a freshman, his wife a teacher, where he was principal all in the same school.
— Contact Don Reid: dReid@Gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DReidTDR.
This article originally appeared on Coldwater Daily Reporter: Coldwater schools names Paul Flynn as next superintendent