Letter: Why the rush?
October 23, 2001
We are experiencing a unique moment in history. We have, within our grasp, the opportunity to make a fresh start in this school district. Let us seize this tremendous windfall and run with it. The decision for a new school superintendent does not need to be made Oct. 23.
First of all, some may oppose the $20,000 price tag for a new superintendent search. This is a cheap price to pay for the chance to get “the very best” in charge of our schools and our children. Our children spend up to 13 years in these schools (some, unfortunately, spend more). If college costs anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 a year for just one child, then $20,000 spread over the entire school population is chump change. My child’s education is worth well over $20,000 for 13 years. Isn’t yours?
The leading candidate for the job, John Soderman, also believes in a search. “My belief is that they should do a search,” he has said.
And what is this talk about a nationwide search? Let’s cut to the best school districts in the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that Iowa has the highest test scores and lowest per child costs in the nation. There are also 10 school districts that are recognized to be the top districts in the country (and I can tell you, Douglas County is not one of them). Let’s start with these.
It has been expressed publicly that Mr. Jim Keegan, a school board trustee, favors hiring an interim superintendent, John Soderman, right away. My feeling is that if Mr. Keegan does not wish to take the time or go to the trouble of scouting out “the very best” for our children, then he should remove himself from the school board and let somebody come on who would love to make the effort.
Perhaps John Soderman is the best person for the district. Then, he should follow the same procedure that any other candidate would follow when applying for this job. And since many school district employees are familiar with his work, then forums at all schools should be held by school board member teams to solicit comments from the teachers and staff. Unlike other school board meetings I have attended, teachers should not feel like their entire professional careers are at stake when they express honest opinions to the board members. And unlike other school board meetings I have attended, parents should not be ridiculed for insisting on higher standards in our schools.
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Our greatest hopes are with the school board members as they embark on this mission. They hold the very future of all of our children in their hands. This is no task to be taken lightly. They have been entrusted with the honor of ensuring that our children will receive the most valuable gift a society can give, an education. Any members who do not understand and respect the obligation they have been given should leave at this time. There is no place on such an important board for non-heroes.