In a surprise move Tuesday night, the Huron Valley Schools Board of Education decided to forgo the rest of the search process and select Jim Baker as the new Huron Valley Schools Superintendent.
Baker has served as interim superintendent for the district since May.
Following the remainder of the candidate interviews Tuesday, the board heard feedback from the audience - all who said Baker was the clear choice.
Initially the school board was going to select two finalists who would be interviewed again next week and spend a day in the district as part of the process. However, several school board members said they already felt one candidate ranked higher than the other three, and that candidate was Baker.
School board member Rebecca Walsh said she felt Robert Shaner, the first candidate interviewed Monday, was also a very strong candidate and that she would have liked to see him go through the rest of the process.
After hearing from the rest of the board, however, Walsh said she didn't want them to move ahead with the interviews if it was just to humor her.
"If five members already have their minds made up, I just don't see a point," Walsh said.
The final decision to enter into negotiations with Baker and offer him the job was a unanimous vote of approval.
During his interview Tuesday, Baker demonstrated to the board that not only could he talk the talk, but he could back that up with examples of what he's done in the district as interim superintendent the last several months.
Baker stressed the importance of building relationships within the schools and the community - and the need to be more transparent.
"We need to be honest and upfront, give that transparent answer and not be afraid to be open on tough issues," Baker said.
The school board called Baker following the vote to let him know of their decision.
"It's not often that I am at a loss for words," Baker said on the phone. "Wow, thank you so much. I'm thrilled. I don't know what to say, thank you for the trust and for recognizing where we are going (as a district). I can't wait to let my wife know."
The school board will meet again Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Milford High School to discuss the demolition of the district's two vacant buildings -- Highland Middle School and Baker Elementary.
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