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Louritt says communication would approve

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

John Louritt says his term as school board member would be marked by an improvement in communication.

Louritt, a domestic violence and sexual assault case worker at Family Support Council and whose daughter, Karlye, is a senior at Douglas High School, is married to Marty, an assistant librarian at DHS. He said that he believes everyone who has applied for the school board has the best interests of the district at heart, but he is the best candidate because he won’t have any conflicts of interest and would promote open communications.

“I believe in a lot of input in a lot of different areas, then you can make a more informed decision. I think some of that is not being done currently,” Louritt said.

Louritt said the school district can be more effective when healthy relationships are built based on respect for all parties.

“All the segments involved in education – parents, teachers, the superintendent, the board, students and taxpayers – you have to have open communication between all the parties. People have to not cross respectful boundaries. It is OK to disagree, but you have to fight fair, and don’t cross those boundaries,” Louritt said.

He said the way to do that is what he calls participative management – one or two people from each population meet to discuss policy changes and come to an agreement.

“The parties work out what they want to change. It takes a little longer to accomplish, but in the long run, everyone has an ownership to it and it is more widely accepted and it is easier to implement,” Louritt said.

n Negotiations. Louritt said he thinks the settlement about the teachers’ contract was fair.

“From a trustee position, that would be fiscally responsible. The board is acting reasonable without dipping into the reserves,” Louritt said.

While campaigning door-to-door, Louritt said he has heard a myriad of complaints, but has found there is some dissatisfaction that the current board extended Superintendent Pendery Clark’s contract.

Louritt said he can not make a decision about that issue until he knows more about Clark and her management style.

“I’m sitting on the fence. I think the board has a job to do. If that board thinks she is doing the job, then they did what was best for the community. I don’t know the superintendent. I would need to learn more before I make a decision on if she’s effective. Because you can be effective without being popular,” Louritt said.

He said an issue he would like to focus on as a board member is increased remediation programs to help students pass the competencies.

Louritt said one of his major concerns is the drop-out rate and how the new requirements will affect students who don’t get the proper remediation.

He also wants to increase the vocational and internship opportunities for students.

“I’m still into wanting to build bigger and better vocation programs. Seventy-five percent of our kids don’t go to college. And 25 percent who do have to take remediation programs in college. We need to help those students who aren’t going to college more. And we really need to help those students work effectively in the community,” Louritt said.

Louritt said more emphasis should be placed on the internship program at the high schools. He said only one person oversees it, but the program is too large a job for one person. He said he’d strive to create partnerships with businesses so students can have more hands-on training.