The good news, bad news about school boardPublished 10:22pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012
To the voters of the Dowagiac Union School District:
As some of you already know, Ruth Ausra and I are running for two seats on the Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education.
Please let me explain to you why we are running.
As with most situations, there is “ good news” and” bad news” as it relates to the state of our school district.
Let me begin by talking about the “bad news.”
During the past two years, there has been a pattern of poor communication and bad management by both the board leadership and the district’s central administration. Following are examples (by no means a complete list):
1. There has been a pattern of poor communication to both parents and district staff regarding such items as personnel changes, this spring’s infamous “noon meeting” to inform principals about the status of their contracts, and, most recently, the communication regarding the handling of the incident at UHS involving the student who had guns in his truck at school.
2. It was bad management to hire a deputy superintendent who worked from home (in Ft. Wayne, Ind.) on many days and was often not available to students, parents and staff as a result.
3. The sudden firing of Assistant Superintendent Hal Davis without the benefit of any formal evaluation by the superintendent ultimately cost our district an additional $100,000 because attention was not paid to the timelines for dismissal.
As a result, Mr. Davis, by law, had to paid for the entire school year following the year during which he was fired.
4. The August, 2012, bond request vote was voted down by a wide margin in large part because we voters didn’t understand what the request represented and for good reason — on the day of the vote, the board and administration had not yet told us what would become of Union High School!
5. The move by central administration from the “White House” to City Hall was never clearly understood by our community, but the worst aspect of that move was the poor process used to dispose of the “White House.” There was never an attempt made through normal channels (appraisal, realtor, etc.) to market the building and the district ended up agreeing to sell it for $10,000.
6. A final thought (or question): Whatever did happen to the Disney Way concept that was so heavily promoted by the former board president and the superintendent?
Now for some “good news”:
1. The board president during the past two “bad” years is no longer a board member.
2. There are some “good” members in place, and Ruth and I look forward to working with them to enable our district to heal from the mess described above and “move forward with positive change.”
3. There are many qualified and dedicated employees working within the district who need to be respected for their efforts and acknowledged. We will help to promote that attitude.
4. Dowagiac’s Union Schools were known for a very long time (Ruth and I are both products) as being good places for children to get their educations and we want to re- create that mindset.
As in any meaningful race for elected office, you will have choices when you go to the polls.
Please consider the best interests of all of our students and vote for Larry Schmidt and Ruth Ausra. We will represent you and our district honestly, openly and energetically!
Candidate, Dowagiac Union Schools
Board of Education