TCAPS Board picks VanWagoner for superintendent

May 20, 2020

John VanWagoner
Credit Alpena Public Schools

The Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education unanimously selected John VanWagoner as the new district superintendent.

VanWagoner is currently the superintendent of Alpena Public Schools, and says he already has experience leading a big school district in northern Michigan.

He says, like TCAPS, Alpena is base-funded, meaning they receive the minimum amount of per-pupil funds from the state.

“As a base-funded district … just like Traverse City [with] a large transportation system to have to pay for. These are all challenges we are facing and we have to be preparing for it right now,” Van Wagoner said in a community forum on May 15.

VanWagoner beat out Denise Herrmann, superintendent of Roseville Joint Union High School District in California, for the role.

Previous district superintendent Ann Cardon resigned in September, only a few months into the job. Neither the school board or Cardon have given the exact reason for her departure.

Justin Van Rheneen is with TCAPS Transparency, a group created in the wake of Cardon’s departure that advocates for “Transparency, Good Governance & Fiscal Responsibility” on the board. He says, while he preferred Herrmann for the role, the board handled the superintendent search well.

“I think this whole process was a great opportunity for the school board to show they were willing to put the past in the past,” Van Rheneen said, adding that the community felt involved in the hiring process.

TCAPS Transparency still has recall ballots pending against three sitting board members: Sue Kelly, Matt Anderson and Pam Forton.