[Readers’ forum] Attention USD 256


April 7, 2010 - 12:00 AM

On March 30, there was a special board meeting in the high school library to discuss administrative contracts.
The room was packed with concerned parents/citizens for the administrative positions the board must make decisions on.
I would like to give a recap so hopefully more USD 256 patrons will call board members. My eyes were opened to our local politics for this was the first school board meeting I have personally been to.
The patrons that attended were, without exception, responsible and respectful citizens of the community who wanted to confirm that our local elementary principal had not been forced to take a buyout to save the superintendent’s job.
Patti Boyd stated that these were complete rumors and this was just an offer on the table, in case he was interested. The big question is, can USD 256 afford an extra person to be superintendent or can we figure out a solution with cost savings in this area? Everyone who spoke, and there were several, spoke in favor of keeping Mr. McWhirter and raising him to the position of superintendent/elementary principal.
Unfortunately, Tuesday’s Marmaton Valley board meeting ended in a deadlock. Melvin Bland, Bob Rhodes and Steve Becker tried to move the district forward with one proposal to combine administrative positions: creating a superintendent/elementary principal and high school principal. They were voted down 4-3. Those voting against were Brenda Swanson, Patti Boyd, Judy Knight and Amanda Allen. The issue was basically tabled and for the time being leaves in place the current superintendent, high school and elementary principal. No contracts were offered. Other ideas were given but none credible enough that anyone wanted to make a motion.
We had numerous people speak on favoring only two people doing the combined job. No one from the audience spoke on behalf of keeping the current three administrative positions. Several board members said that they have been contacted by many people who want the change, but yet we still have four no votes. In my heart I believe that four members of the board are not responding to the majority of the public who elected them.
Our elementary principal is only part time now and Title I the other half of his contract. The reason one claimed she didn’t want to change the existing administrative setup is they wanted to do what is best for the children. Well, he is only part time now, how will anything be changed concerning the children? If he is part-time superintendent he is still part-time principal. No change. Our principal is not the only reason MVES runs so efficiently. We have some of the best teachers in our district, I am sure they will adapt to this change and our children will know no difference.
Mrs. Swanson asked why administrators always get cut first; why not start at the “bottom.” She gave no suggestion of an alternative, but this gave me some insight to how she feels.
We know there has to be change. I do believe the board believes this too. Three years ago we gave a stranger, who had never been a superintendent, the chance to lead our school. Why not give our elementary principal a chance? We know his proven success rate over the past 26 years.
In closure, I have two requests. Everyone come to the next board meeting — 7 p.m. April 12 — and any subsequent board meetings until this is resolved; make them see who they are representing. Keep them ac-countable to the heart, soul and mind of the Marmaton Valley community. These are huge decisions for the future of our school.
Finally, contact the school board members and tell them how you feel.
We must give credit to our school board’s efforts. They are an integral part of our school with the given power to make decisions for all of us. It would be tough to be in their position in “good” times; these hard times must be trying.

Susan Booth,
Moran, Kan.

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