An open letter to the residents of the White River Valley School District–
One of the things that sold me on coming to work at White River Valley School District was the strong community support for our school system and for our students. When the interim superintendent talked to me about the superintendent’s position at WRV, he spoke of the great students and the many good people in the area who take great pride in our school communities. He also spoke of the many challenges that were facing our district, and among all of the challenges that the financial health of the district would need to be addressed immediately. In fact, he told me that the Board would be cutting $350,000 of general fund expenditures in the spring.
The Board of Education has been upfront and honest in assessing the problems that currently face our school district. They have challenged me to move forward to act in the best interests of our students, while also being financially responsible in our actions. I am challenging them to utilize all of our resources to get our programs—academic and extra-curricular—to the point where our students can compete with anyone. That should always be our ultimate goal…making sure our students have the skills needed to be able to compete for jobs, for the limited college entrance spots, for spots in vocational programs or technology programs, and to put students in the position to realize their dreams. I made two promises to the Board: #1 I would work harder than any candidate that they could find otherwise and #2 I would stand up and fight for our school system and the students who walk through our school doors each and every day.
Now it is my belief that the best way to represent our school community is to do so in a transparent environment. The only way to solve problems is to put the facts out on the table and get input. That’s why I hold my open hours in the evening…to be accessible to our school patrons—all of them. It has always been my philosophy to be available to folks…to listen to problems and concerns and to find appropriate solutions. I have three great young men of my own…but for the purposes of my profession I really have 814 children…for your children truly are my children. I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t want the best for his or her child. My family is not unlike yours. It has a budget, and we have to live within that budget. I am bringing the same type of philosophy to this position. There are tough choices that have to be made; we can’t have everything we always want. As a school community, we have to put the abilities to get our kids competitive as a priority, while also being a responsible steward of our resources. Our number one resource is our children. As long as I am here to serve you, my number one priority is to ensure that our students are competitive in our local community as well as in our global economy.
My hero in life is my father. He passed away a few years back. He was a great man. His father died when he was five, and he worked through some awful and poverty-stricken problems in inner-city Indianapolis to grow from a teenage boy working in the printer’s galley to the company’s vice-president. He went back to school in his fifties while working his full-time job to earn his college degree in teaching because he felt it would better serve him in his position on the local school board, a position he held for twelve years. He taught me about the importance of working hard, the importance of valuing what one has, and about treating people with respect and dignity. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was: “Never wrestle with a pig; the pig will love it, and you’ll just end up getting dirty.”
When dealing with the financial health of the district, that means making tough choices. It also means dealing in facts. Very soon, we will be putting together some informational meetings for the public and any WRV school patron who has an interest, a question, or a concern about our district’s finances. Until then, I will give you factual information…not opinion, not in argumentative form, not in hidden or multiple identities. I invite anyone who has a question about these facts to come and see me. I might not have all the answers, but I will know where to go or who to ask to find them.
As someone who is new to the community, I have been struck by the strong community pride that exists in the heart of Greene County. We are facing some tremendous difficulties, but I am confident that if everyone works together we can overcome our challenges and our kids, our schools, and our community will all benefit.
The link below will take you to a section on our school’s website that will include information relevant to our finances and to our potential referendum. You can add questions to our frequent questions section through emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.