This school board must listen to residents and be true to its role

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The Baldwin-Whitehall School District board of directors finds itself in a time of transition and unfortunate scrutiny. After just recently completing an eight-year term of service, I am responding to the concerns voiced to me by many with legitimate concerns.

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 jurisdiction of the superintendent, the level of compensation and a five-year contract for a newly created position.

While I think the board members’ actions are an aggressive departure from their 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 school boards and district administrations vary, the National School Boards Association points out that successful school boards act as stewards that review and adopt policies, align resources and monitor progress. The superintendent leads as chief executive officer 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 school district. According to the NSBA, boards that attempt to circumvent the superintendent are divisive and disruptive.

Superintendent Randal Lutz and the district 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 resident outcry and listen closely to their concerns.

GEORGE L. PRY
Whitehall


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