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School boards' role

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Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board finds itself in a time of transition and unfortunate scrutiny. After recently ending my eight years of board service, I am responding to legitimate concerns voiced to me by many.

My voting privileges were not in effect for these controversial matters. Had I been able, I would have voiced strong opposition to hiring a district employee with a reporting structure outside the superintendent's jurisdiction, his level of compensation and a five-year contract for a newly created position.

While the board's actions are an aggressive departure from its entrusted roles, perhaps more serious than an ongoing character debate is the urgent imperative to restore definition to the role of a school board. While relationships between boards and administrations vary, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) points out that successful boards act as stewards that review and adopt policies, align resources and monitor progress. The superintendent leads as CEO, with more concrete responsibilities for daily operations and execution of strategic initiatives.

It's not uncommon, even with the best intentions, for the lines to blur, and confusion about these roles has a negative effect on a district. According to the NSBA, boards that attempt to circumvent superintendents are divisive and disruptive.

Superintendent Randal Lutz and the Baldwin-Whitehall professional staff have clear vision and goals focused on student experience, high academic achievement and effective operations.

The new board is a strong team of volunteers with diverse expertise united by an unwavering commitment to student success. However, even the most experienced leaders must remain mindful of mission, especially during times of controversy.

While opinions on any issue will always vary, I think it's important for the board to carefully consider residents' outcry and listen closely to their concerns.

George L. Pry

Whitehall

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