As assistant superintendent of staff and student services at Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers, Michael Beresford has admired Carmel Clay Schools.
He was named CCS superintendent June 1.
“I’m the luckiest guy on the planet,” said Beresford, who has worked at HSE schools for 25 of his 35-year educational career. “Carmel Clay Schools has the reputation of the best schools in the state. I feel like I’ve been chosen to be the manager of the Yankees when they had everything. The teaching staff, the administrative staff and support staff is first class in every way. I’m looking forward to joining that high-caliber team.”
Layla Spanenberg, CCS school board president, said Beresford’s familiarity with Carmel schools was only one factor in the decision.
“We were looking for a candidate who had a wealth of experience and a depth of experience,” Spanenberg said. “Dr. Beresford has that, his background in relationship building, in HR, in mental health and counseling background. He understands how kids tick and what is going to help them succeed. He developed this extensive mental health program at Hamilton Southeastern for all students in all schools. That helped set him apart from other very qualified candidates.”
Spanenberg cited Beresford’s certification as a school safety specialist as another key factor.
“Keeping kids safe is the number one priority,” he said.
Beresford, who has a doctorate in education administration from Ball State, said a similarity with the HSE and Carmel school districts is parents who really care about their children’s education.
“Education is a priority in their lives,” he said.
Roger McMichael and Amy Dudley have been serving interim co-superintendents. Former Supt. Nicholas Wahl resigned in January after being put on administrative leave in October 2017 when the school announced it would conduct a review of district leadership. Human resources director Corrine Middleton also resigned in January after going on administrative leave the same day as Wahl. There was speculation the two had been involved in a romantic relationship, but officials declined to provide details on what they deemed personnel decisions.
Beresford did not want to dwell on any past district issues.
“That’s the past, we’re moving forward,” he said. “I’m not privy to a lot of that information. I’m about moving forward, not about backing up. I do care about earning the trust of the community and the trust of the parents. I’m very serious about that and I’ll do all I can to make that happen.”
Beresford said he has not reviewed the recommendation by interim superintendents to build a new Carmel Elementary School adjacent to its current location and close Orchard Park Elementary and build a new school five miles away at Clay Center Road. Orchard Park Elementary United has been formed to oppose the moving of the school. The board is slated to vote on it June 25.
“I’ve not been involved in that process, and that process might be over before I start,” Beresford said.
Beresford said he has no comment on whether he would like the board to wait to make the decision.
“I’m starting on July 1 and we’ll go from there,” he said. “If that’s on the table on July 1, we’ll talk then. If the decision is made, it’s made.”
Spanenberg said no decision has been made on the recommendation.
“We have two highly qualified interim superintendents that are giving leadership and directions on a step-by-step basis,” Spanenberg said.
The proposed contract for Beresford will be posted on the CCS website. A meeting to gather public input on the contract is set for 7:05 p.m. June 11 at the Educational Services Center, 5201 E. Main St. The school board is expected to vote on the contract at a special meeting set for 7 p.m. June 19.