I would like to comment on the editorial in The Record-Courier (Oct. 20) about the Lake-Valley divide.
The comment about some in the Valley thinking that Ms. Lark aligned herself with the Lake is misleading. I believe that a vocal minority has inflamed this decades old issue for a more personal agenda. The great majority of educators, student-parents and community members in Douglas have shown that they believe in this district. The research undertaken by MGT consultants to help the board with long term planning found a 97 percent excellent rating of the education in Douglas County, Valley and Lake. The 500 plus chose to participate in this survey.
The facts are that she was thrust into the complicated issue of a school closure that integrated a middle school into a high school and the perceived or actual promise to the Lake parents, students and teachers by the former administration. The resurrected issue of radon, an issue the district has known about since 1988, was eventually resolved districtwide.
The fact is, these three issues, which have required a tremendous amount of time, happened to be at the Lake. Additionally the small population of students at the Lake allows for pilot programs, trials for innovation and the ability to track the success of new programs with greater ease, something critical in education today.
Whittell High School was awarded a grant for empowerment. When the grant was revoked because of budget cuts, the community – parents, students, teachers and adminstrators – decided to make this work without the money. This will allow the district to evaluate whether new programs, more autonomy for each school site, innovative ideas, etc., help with student achievement and attracting new students, which Whittell is doing.
Personally I am an avid supporter for more autonomy of each indiviual school within the parameters of district policy. Strong principals know their students and communities better than a small group of administrators at a centralized spot. This is true regardless of where the school is located. Hopefully what is learned at the small schools at the Lake can be a foundation for our great principals in the Valley to come forward with their ideas as to what they believe could help with student achievement in their own school. There is nothing more distressing to me than to hear that a principal, with a great idea, was told “no” because “we’ve never done it that way before” or “the board will never go for it.”
This board member is willing to listen to any principal or administrator, in the Valley or at the Lake, who has a researched idea to improve student achievement, critical thinking skills, ideas to keep more students in the district or raise graduation rates. We have hired the best, so let them work to the best of their ability and let’s celebrate the differences between our Lake and Valley schools to encourage collaboration rather than divisiveness.
Douglas County School Board