This is the single best word to describe the Greater Clark County Schools Board. At every opportunity, members seem to defy logic in decisions they make, presumably in the best interest of students attending the district’s schools.
Forget that this group hasn’t the slightest clue how a board is designed to function — its penchant for micromanagement is shameful. Forget that its members decided to send a successful superintendent, Stephen Daeschner, packing despite three straight years of impressive educational improvement.
Forget all of that.
But please, for the sake of the students attending Greater Clark now and in the future, don’t ignore this board’s latest gaffe.
The search committee assembled to find Daeschner’s replacement — which contains three board members — has failed in its mission, whether or not the man picked for the job, Andrew Melin, gets board approval at a meeting Monday night. Even if Melin turns out to be a fine leader for the 11,000-student school corporation, the majority of the board has failed you.
Consider the following:
• Melin’s selection as the final candidate (he’s actually the second choice, as the first option’s contract demands were not agreeable to the board) comes without a site visit to his school district in Valparaiso, which is within driving distance. It is inexcusable that not one board member went north to at least see what the corporation’s schools looked like or to ask locals what they thought of Melin. That’s laughable.
• At least two board members say they found out about Melin being the finalist when a press release announcing the news was sent out to the media Tuesday. That’s shameful.
• Christina Gilkey, board president and head of the search committee, said for a Thursday News and Tribune article that she was not familiar with an 88-page state audit of Valparaiso schools that showed several issues with the school system, including spending $322,217 on a JumboTron without the school board’s approval. The audit was turned over to the local prosecutor for consideration of charges, although no action has taken place. As Greater Clark board member Becka Christensen said, that’s embarrassing.
When researching for a story about Melin’s selection as a finalist this week, the News and Tribune found numerous recent stories about Valparaiso schools by doing a simple search on the website for the Times of Northwest Indiana, a newspaper that covers the school district. There were multiple stories about the recently released audit and a copy of the audit itself.
The search committee, and more specifically Gilkey, should have known about this audit soon after Melin’s name was mentioned as a candidate. The information is easy to find.
In essence, school board members on the search committee expect the students at the schools they oversee to do their homework, but aren’t willing to put in that effort themselves.
It’s not like the search committee was short on time, either. It’s been six months since the board voted 5-2 to not renew Daeschner’s contract. That was the first mistake in this process.
Some of the board members who voted for nonrenewal did so because they said Daeschner makes too much money at $225,000 a year.
Melin will make $205,000 in his first year and then $185,000 annually thereafter.
Is a $20,000 or $40,000 difference at a multimillion school corporation really worth running off a known commodity in favor of one that has not been fully vetted?
That’s less than the cost of one teacher. The superintendent oversees every employee of the school corporation.
It leaves us confused and wondering what some members of the board are thinking. And then it becomes clear that they are thinking of themselves and personal agendas rather than what’s best for students.
For his sake, let’s hope that Melin has done his homework on this school board. He better be prepared to be micromanaged.
As for Greater Clark students and taxpayers, they’re being short-changed by the school board.
— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy and Assistant Editors Chris Morris and Amy Huffman-Branham.
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OUR OPINION: It’s time for Clarksville to consider becoming a city
Polston, in abstaining, said he did not have a good enough grasp of how his constituents felt about the voting issue to vote on the matter himself.
If the town gives its residents the opportunity to hear the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a city, and then lets them vote on the issue via referendum, Polston won’t have to wonder.
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OUR OPINION: Residents can gain access at seminar
Here are just a few examples: You have access to information on who gets married and divorced; you can find out what public employees get paid; you can search court records to see if your friends or neighbors have ever been charged with or convicted of a crime; and you can read the minutes of a city council meeting held years ago.
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