ANDERSON — In an unexpected move, the Anderson Community Schools board is offering interim superintendent Joe Cronk the position.

Board President Pat Hill announced the board’s choice at Tuesday’s public meeting. Cronk has been serving as interim superintendent since March 2020 when former school chief Tim Smith resigned.

Cronk was offered the superintendent’s position in August 2020, but withdrew the contract before the board could vote.

The naming of a superintendent has been a topic of concern in Anderson with members of the Black community urging the school board to name minority members to the search committee.

No appointment was made and several local residents called for diversity and inclusion when it came to the ACS administration.

Hill said the ACS board will vote on Cronk’s contract on April 29 at 6 p.m. during a public meeting.

He said the contract is for three years starting on July 1, 2021, and running through June 30, 2024. The salary for the position is $155,000 with increases in the second and third year.

Hill said the ACS board received eight applications for the position, but he wouldn’t state how many people were interviewed.

“I never aspired to be the superintendent,” Cronk told The Herald Bulletin following the meeting. “I believe I’m the right guy at the right time at the right place.”

Cronk said the job offer wasn’t a surprise, believing he has done a good job over the past 13 months.

“Moving forward I plan to reach out to the community of color and those that are disenfranchised,” he said. “My plan is to form advisory groups to inform the school corporation what we should be doing and how to do it.”

Cronk said at some point he will make a presentation to the community.

As could be expected, members of the minority community were not receptive to the announcement.

Tamie Dixon-Tatum said she came to the meeting to ask about the superintendent search.

“I got my answer,” she said. “I’m disheartened that there was no transparency in the process and no diversity at the table.

“Diversity matters and is important,” Dixon-Tatum said. “We want to make sure all people have their voices heard.”

Angie Strickler said the board members didn’t comment about Cronk’s abilities or desire to reach out to the Black and brown community.

“Or your commitment to reach out to the community,” she said.

Lindsay Brown said there was a Black applicant for the superintendent’s position who was never contacted.

“There is a lack of transparency in our school system,” he said. “There is a lack of collaboration that should be outlined in the future.”

Randy Harrison, president of the Anderson Federation of Teachers, said Cronk put together a diverse team of administrators who got the school system through the coronavirus pandemic.

“The AFT feels confident that we have a good team working for ACS,” he said.

Most of the board members spoke highly of Cronk’s being offered the position.

Board member Carrie Bales said she was not aware of the contract offering.

“I will be one of your biggest advocates,” she said.

Board member Holly Renz said during community meetings the public wanted someone who will stay in the position.

“Joe Cronk fits the needs and the criteria,” she said. “He is a man of his word and a man of integrity.”

Renz said Cronk is a “straight shooter” and has worked hard.

“I understand the need to have the right person in the right place to move the system forward,” she said.

Board member Kenneth Hodson said the board interviewed a lot of good candidates and that Cronk is not coming from outside the school district.

“Joe is what we need at this time,” he said.

Board member Jeff Barranco said there have been a lot of changes since 2017 and not everything has been seen by the community.

“The district has changed in four years,” he said. “It’s about a team, not a one-man show. The board has to work with the community.”

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.