Meet Jim Larson-Schidler: The New Interim Superintendent for Hamtramck Public Schools


By: Omar Thabet

Some of you may already know Jim Larson-Schidler. He’s been working as the CFO for Hamtramck Public Schools since the beginning of this school year.

But in February, when Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed took a leave of absence, the district began looking for someone who can continue to steer the schools towards success. 

That someone was Jim Larson-Schidler, who after a board vote/approval in May, became the new interim superintendent for Hamtramck Public Schools. Larson-Schidler continues to work the role of CFO for the district as well. 


Get to Know Jim Larson-Schidler

Larson-Schidler began his educational journey at the University of Southern California. Larson-Schidler received an undergraduate degree in accounting from USC. After working in public accounting, Larson-Schidler decided he wanted to contribute more to society, and he knew that getting into education would be the best way to do so. 

After receiving a masters degree in public policy from Ohio State University, Larson-Schidler began his journey in the education field. 

Fast forward to today, Larson-Schidler has over 30 years of experience in schools. He’s worked in districts that have 1,000 students to 70,000 students. Most of his roles in the past have been on the business side of things, but now Larson-Schidler looks forward to working on the instructional side of things.


Vision and Challenges

Larson-Schidler’s vision is pretty simple: Focus on the students.

“Number 1, coming from the business side of it, I know we are not utilizing our funds as we should,” Larson-Schidler said when asked about his vision. “I know we need to get people in positions to where we can plan and organize. We need to be able to go into the 2024-2025 school year with a plan.”

 Larson-Schidler then added, “Number 2, we need to look at our staffing. We’ve had a lot of open positions throughout the district. We had too many long-term subs in important positions. We need to have qualified teachers who can be effective and provide effective instruction to our students.”

There are some other challenges that the district face, challenges that Larson-Schidler is aware of, but he again emphasized focusing on the students. 

“A lot of the challenges comes from instability. There has been a lot of changeover within the district. We need to get people in here who have that institutional knowledge and that want to be here for the long term.”


Community Involvement

Larson-Schidler also wants to put an emphasis on making sure everyone’s voice in the district is being heard. 

“It’s all about transparency and listening to people,” Larson-Schidler said. “Everybody’s role is important to the functioning of the school district. I want to make sure that everybody is involved and they know that they are important.”

Larson-Schidler isn’t just talking about the staff and teachers within the district, but the parents and the students as well. 

To ensure positive communication with the parents, Larson-Schidler wants to start a ‘Talk to the Superintendent’ program which is a link that parents can log into and send any questions they have to the superintendent and he will respond back to those questions. 

“This a great way for parents to have that communication with the superintendent, especially if they are not able to attend board meetings or don’t want to ask a question publicly,” Larson-Schidler said. 

Larson-Schidler has also encouraged administrators to start using their Title I funding to bring parents into their schools.

As for the students, Larson-Schidler believes it’s important to go out to the schools and talk to them to hear how they feel about potential decisions that are looking to be made within the district.

“I think it is important to listen to the students and hear their input and feedback,” Larson-Schidler said.


What’s Next?

Interim Superintendent Larson-Schidler said he wants to get to a place where they are only focused on delivering the right instruction to the students and using the right tools.

“We need to look at our processes and what we use to instruct students,” Larson-Schidler said. “We need to do some analysis on how we use or what programs we use. We need to determine what are the programs that are most effective for our students, and then start implementing those programs. That’s what I am focused on.”

Overall, Larson-Schidler said he is looking forward to taking on the interim superintendent role.

“I am really looking forward to participating and getting more involved with the teachers, the principals and the instructional side,” Larson-Schidler explained. “I got some ideas of how we can do some data analysis to drive the district forward. And to do that analysis you need everybody in the room, so I also look forward to hearing people’s input. You need all voices talking and you need people that are not afraid to give you input. That’s how we will move forward together as a district.”