OPINION COLUMNS

New school year, new superintendent

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monday night the board of trustees for Boyd ISD picked a new superintendent to lead the district. The timing came right as teachers, students, parents and principals prepare to begin a new school year.

With a unanimous decision by the board, Ted West will become the district’s fourth superintendent in a six-year period.

Brandon Evans

Brandon Evans

Districts everywhere go through superintendents at a faster rate than in decades past, but it would be good to see stability at the position, especially if you look at the money spent to buy out the contracts of past superintendents. It cost district taxpayers approximately $400,000 to get rid of Charles Cox, Greg Stone and John Emshoff.

Boyd is a remarkable place. The district has talented athletes, intelligent and creative students, passionate teachers and administrators and devoted parents. But it also has its problems. It has a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. The numbers have been so high that the district started giving away free lunches this summer.

This fall it’s implementing a Head Start program for at-risk students. Not surprisingly, most campuses don’t have very good academic ratings, but that’s to be expected when dealing with high numbers of low-income students.

These are going to be the tough issues facing West, but it appears he’s ahead of the game. He said improving Boyd’s academic standings is his top priority. He wants and expects all of his students to perform well, regardless of backgrounds or hardships. It’s admirable. And it’s the right attitude to have.

There is another positive with this hire. The board was united on the choice.

In an interview I had with Linda Ware, a former school board member for several terms and longtime elementary principal with Boyd ISD, she said the most frustrating moments for her on the board was when they were split on a major decision.

“Where there is a divided board, it is the worst thing that can happen,” she said. “Because even if you don’t vote for something and it passes, you have to live with it. That would be my one regret. That we didn’t always agree.”

Ware said a superintendent’s job has gotten more difficult in recent years. As a principal, she worked for Larry Enis. He served as superintendent at Boyd for more than 30 years, quite a contrast from the quick turnover seen in the past six years.

But then again, the role of a superintendent is much different from what it once was. They used to spend their time getting boards to approve the purchase of a lawnmower, now they implement new forms of curriculum like CSCOPE or oversee vast technology upgrades like iPads and MacBooks for everyone with lessons based around those new classroom tools.

“They are required to be district leaders,” she said. “They are required to be visionaries for our future. That’s a whole different role than what it used to be.

“The superintendent is now a salesman,” Ware added. “They sell the ideas. And they sell the belief in themselves. If you don’t have someone who’s a really good salesman, it’s not going to work.”

I have confidence the current board of trustees picked a quality candidate with West. They also had a very viable choice with runner-up Barbara Stice. I have faith that the members of the board have nothing but the best interests of the students in mind and teachers at the district. But I hope the board maintains confidence in West, and we’re not discussing another buyout two years from now.

With all the recent upheaval, the staff and faculty in the district need a district leader they can depend on, one who will support them and one who will guide them well into the sometimes murky future of public education, whatever it may hold.

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