December 22, 2014

School staff deserve praise for normal day despite district shake-up

It’s a testament to teachers and building administrators that  USD 231’s excellence in education continued as usual on Feb. 28.
Less than 12 hours before school started last Friday, the slimmest majority of the school board decided to terminate the top three leaders in the district.
The meeting itself was contentious. Lawyers were involved, and questions were asked as to whether the action board members took was a legal one. Members of the school board ignored their own attorney, with one member saying she didn’t believe the board’s interests were being represented.
More lawyers will likely be involved as the terminations reverberate through the community and likely, through the courts.
It must have been chaotic in the district offices on Friday morning, but parents of students had no reason for concern.
It appears interim superintendent Pam Stranathan took charge with the clerk of the school board quickly dashing off an email to district staff about changes in the chain of command.
Students appeared to be completely unaffected by the changing administrative landscape. Perhaps the only  slight difference they may have noticed were television news vans and reporters parked in front of schools, seeking reactions from parents, staff and students.
The shake-up at the district front office hit the national wire services. Teachers and school staff all deserve a sincere thanks from parents and the community.
Also deserving of thanks: all seven members of the school board.
We trust that each voted his or her conscience on what was surely an emotional issue. Superintendent Bill Gilhaus had been the head administrator for 10 years. The board members certainly developed loyalties and friendships with him and other members of the administrative team.
We aren’t sure what the aftermath of the termination will be, but we think the outcome was appropriate. Had the vote gone the other way, we still would have anticipated changes at the top in the very near future. Once a leader has lost the confidence of several school board members, it’s challenging to lead a school district.
USD 231 will continue to be a beacon of educational excellence. Of that we’ve no doubt. That’s largely due to a compassionate school board and dedicated teachers and staff.

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