Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fair Winds and Following Seas

As far as students are concerned our school year did get off to a good start. For an explanation of why and how that can be true in spite of all the friction, I might refer you to my September 2nd post. Nevertheless, we had to contend with quite a distraction the last several weeks. The school board meeting on September 16th provided much needed closure and I am confident that we will now move on as a school district. Instead of continuing to belabor the issue, I instead will let the content and context of the press releases speak for themselves. Both are available on our website. As a bookend, we would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the deeply held opinions on both sides and reaffirm the idea that all voices are important, provided that they are respectful and accurate in their dissent or concurrence. Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank the faculty and staff for their professional conduct throughout, their ability to always stay above the line, and for their complete voluntary and unrequested show of support.

Now we get to hit the reset button. Each September, the school board has the opportunity to hold it's annual organizational meeting and start over. And every other year we hold a school board election. It is by mere happenstance that we now have this chance to refocus our work and clearly state once again that our Core Purpose is to 'Create Learning Environments That Result in Success for All Students'. As you are all aware, Director Tanya Higgins decided early on that she would not seek re-election to the board, and Director David Ball successfully sought and was elected to her seat. Incumbent Karyn Finn is now beginning her second term. 

Following the election and in advance of the organizational meeting we hold the 'Final Meeting of the Retiring Board'. Part ceremonial and part statutory, we largely view this as a time to honor and recognize those who's service is coming to an end. 

President Griffith presents Emeritus Director Higgins
with a plaque honoring her service to the school board.
So as we begin this new term, I would like to first start out by thanking Director Higgins for her work on behalf of the Hudson Community School District these last four years. Tanya was a fantastic member of the board that always understood the vital role she played in governance of the school district. As a leader, she understood full well the firewall that exists between governance and administration and always respected that line. Not comfortable with the status quo, she challenged me as the superintendent and wasn't afraid to disagree. Further, anyone who is currently serving or has served in the past knows full well that the work of a school board member is usually a thankless job, and as all have been reminded the last couple of weeks it can be a stressful job! The amount of knowledge and information that a board member must digest on a regular basis to prepare for the board meeting often includes board packets that are in excess of 100 pages, and to assume the work of a board member only requires one business meeting a month is naive. 

There has been a lot to celebrate during Tanya's time on the board. We can point to many facility upgrades, new and research based curricular material, an improved financial position, and the implementation of our connected learning project. You can see Director Emeritus Higgins' leadership along with that of her colleagues in many of these successes that we can celebrate in our district. 

In the Navy, during a change of command, the retirement of a sailor, or commissioning of a ship, the phrase 'Fair Winds and Following Seas' is used to wish good luck and fortune on our next voyage in life. It seems fitting here to use that same quote here as we thank Tanya for her service and seat our new board.

I am excited for the future of the Hudson Community School District and look forward to working with this new board! We have a lot of exciting decisions to make in the coming months and years.

Board of Directors for the Hudson Community School
District. Pictured from left to right: President Jerry Griffith,
Vice President Karyn Finn, Directors Liz Folladori,
David Ball, and Traci Trunck.

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