OPINION: Who is Driving the Bus?
Greendale’s graduating class of 2015 will receive their diplomas on June 14.
If the sun shines, it will be held at Gavinski Stadium. It is a great event and I’ve attended many at the same location, including my own. High school graduation is one of the most significant milestones in the life of a student. It is a proud day for those students, their families, teachers, staff and our community.
A reader shared an excellent blog post with me today that got me thinking about the relationship between the school district and our community. To many Village observers, it is disappointing that the relationship is no longer an entirely healthy one.
Circumstances in the district’s central office remain strained, angry and often dysfunctional. It is an open secret that our top school leaders continue to interview to leave the district. To deal with the leadership gap, Joe Crapitto has stepped in to become — in effect — the lowest-paid superintendent in the state.
That is not how a school district is supposed to be run.
Meanwhile, Village leaders (including some school board members) are no longer shy about expressing previously private opinions about a range of leadership failures. A notable rift exists in the relationship between the schools, the community and Village government — whether school leaders and their supporters want to admit it or not. And, it isn’t just the opinion of a few malcontents.
What is the solution? It isn’t all gloom and doom. We might look at the current state of district leadership as a blessing in disguise, albeit an unwanted one.
For starters, there are some questions the school board could answer:
- Who will replace long-time Director of Business Erin Green?
- What was the outcome of the seven closed sessions regarding the performance of Superintendent John Tharp? Will his contract be renewed or is something else going on?
- Will the board commit to engage and work with community members who ask hard questions?
- Does the district plan to use a referendum as a way to pay for proposed $12 to $26 million dollar facility improvements?
- When and how will a new strategic plan be developed?
Finally, what is the school board going to do better for Greendale? Some school leaders are clinging to an expiring strategic plan, tired talking points and old ways of thinking about education. Real leadership from our elected officials can’t continue to be postponed.
The vast majority of Greendale residents believe every child has to be given access to a quality education. Our school district has a history of delivering above and beyond. That is a point of pride for our community and a primary reason why families move to the Village.
Greendale’s current 7th grade students are five years away from their own high school graduation. Parents and community members have every right to wonder what the collective community vision for a quality education looks like for Greendale in 2020.
It is fair to ask who is going to step forward and lead the community in developing and delivering on a plan for our district’s future. Who do you want driving the bus?