“I’ve always been very interested in evaluation because I think that it’s a way to help individuals grow and strengthen their skills. And it’s also a way to reward those excellent and outstanding teachers and administrators.” Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
“I’ve always been very interested in evaluation because I think that it’s a way to help individuals grow and strengthen their skills. And it’s also a way to reward those excellent and outstanding teachers and administrators.”

Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger

(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Madison Consolidated Schools' new superintendent is a longtime Indiana teacher and administrator who lists her strengths as course curriculum and teacher evaluation.

Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger, 48, who currently serves as the assistant superintendent at Marion Community Schools, will become MCS superintendent July 1. She will be tasked with guiding the corporation through a transition into an era of new state education mandates.

The school board voted 4-0 - with Andy Lytle absent - during a special meeting Tuesday morning to approve a three-year contract for Studebaker-Bolinger. She will earn $115,000 a year, plus a $12,000 stipend in lieu of the corporation providing health insurance.

"The board has gone through an extensive search, and I think they have an excellent candidate," Interim Superintendent Steve Gookins said before making the hiring recommendation to the board.

Gookins has been interim superintendent since Tom Patterson requested a medical leave of absence last year. Both of their contracts expire on June 30, which is when Patterson plans to retire.

Studebaker-Bolinger has served as the assistant superintendent for Marion Community Schools for seven years, but her Indiana education career spans 26 years. Prior to working in Marion, she was a superintendent, a coordinator of instruction, high school principal, high school assistant principal and business education teacher.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in business education and a master's degree in business administration from Ball State University. She received her doctorate in educational leadership from Indiana State University and is certified as a school improvement specialist by the University of Nebraska.

She also is the president and CEO of Edicians Inc., an Indianapolis-based school startup organization that employs six educational specialists and focuses on academic research, consultation, professional development and school design.

She currently lives in Noblesville with her husband Rex Bolinger, and two children, Staton and Sydney.

Studebaker-Bolinger wrote her dissertation on teacher evaluation and also launched a teacher evaluation program for Marion Community Schools - which came before the Indiana Department of Education's RISE evaluation. As part of that plan, she is heavily involved in teacher coaching and instructional classroom practices.

"I've always been very interested in evaluation because I think that it's a way to help individuals grow and strengthen their skills. And it's also a way to reward those excellent and outstanding teachers and administrators," she said.

On the administrative side, she said she has seen the effects of a tough financial climate and the departure of students. Since she started at Marion, the district has closed three elementary schools, lost about 1,000 students and reduced its staff by 100 teachers.

Similar financial troubles have spread to several other public school corporations in Indiana, Studebaker-Bolinger said, which is why she wants to start her tenure by encouraging the school to develop a five-year strategic plan to set economic goals.

"That's something that we need to put together very quickly," she said.

Madison school board members have said a reduction in force is likely to happen this year before Studebaker-Bolinger officially joins the corporation. In addition, community members recently have questioned the school board about possible school closures, though the board has not mentioned any plans to close locations this year.

Because of her experience at Marion, Studebaker-Bolinger said she understands the sensitivity and research behind closing schools. If a possible closure would arise in Madison, she said she would encourage the school board to hold public forums to show transparency in the process and keep the parents in the loop.

"What I've found is that parents want the best for their children. And they want to trust their leaders to make those good decisions," she said.  "And if we're open and can communicate through those challenges, we do come up with good solutions, even though they may be difficult at the time."