School board question

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Dear Editor,

What's best for students? This question is easy to answer: Utilize the resources of the district to provide our students with the best opportunity to succeed in post secondary life opportunities.

The question not so easy to answer is how we utilize those resources to achieve this goal. That is the challenge and direct responsibility of the Board of Education and superintendent. The roles are clear. The BOE sets the vision of the district and the superintendent implements the necessary strategies to fulfill that vision.

It is easy at times, however, to allow the process of how to fulfill the vision to take precedence over the pursuit and attainment of that goal.

Ted Donahue resigned in May of 2013 as our Ridgway Elementary School principal. At that time the question was raised by Bart Skalla as to whether we should actually fill the elementary principal position in favor of a different administrative model. However, there had been no formal research completed to support an alternative administrative model that could be implemented prior to the start of this school year. In addition, Superintendent Gomez confirmed that there were no budget issues preventing the continued funding of the position.

As such it was decided by the majority of the BOE to move forward and fill the vacancy. For the majority of the BOE leaving the students and teachers without a principal for the coming school year was simply not an option. The hiring process involved the elementary staff, the screening committee and two separate interview committees. After nearly six hours of interviews and deliberation the recommendation was made to hire Trish Greenwood. Votes of the BOE were in favor of the hiring 4 to 1. In the face of what should have been an easy decision in the hiring of Trish Greenwood, Mr. Skalla voted no. What was clearly best for students and teachers was to hire and support an extremely qualified individual. What was not best for the students and teachers was allow such an individual to slip through our fingers and leave RES without leadership.

Mr. Skalla has been advocating for the elimination of the superintendent position in our district for several months. As recently as the candidate forum he proposed an administrative model consisting of a business manager and two principals, giving more "autonomy" to the principals. However, in a recent letter in this newspaper he stated that he does not advocate for the elimination of the superintendent position. So we are now to understand that he is not in favor of eliminating the superintendent administrative position but simply to eliminate the person. This is a course headed towards the implementation of an agenda, and personal agendas have no place in board work. There is a fine line between having and presenting an opinion to fellow board members and pursuing a personal agenda. For myself, this line has been crossed. What's best for students is for BOE members to conduct themselves within the framework of acceptable board governance and conduct in fulfillment of the vision for our district.

 

Jeffrey Synowic

Ridgway BOE Member