Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2000

The Board’s decision: The star or the team player?

May 4, 2000

Cleaning out the notebook, sorting through the quotes. Rewriting this column for the fourth time.

Take this for what it is one man's semi-informed view of what the school board might do to fill the soon-to-be-vacated superintendent position.

Of the four candidates interviewed to be the next superintendent, it appeared two of them stepped to the fore. I won't mention any names, but the two are about as different as, say, Overland Park and Holcomb, Kan.

You do the math.

Speaking of math, one of the leading candidates has a pretty impressive record. It seems that more than 90 percent of his graduating seniors last year passed advanced mathematics courses. That's nearly 30 percent above the state average.

The school board should be aware of that statistic.

In my eyes, this man is a rising star, which creates something of a dilemma.

Does the school board select a star? Or does it select the best team player, the man who is going to fall in line with the wishes of the board?

Interesting decision, indeed especially when you factor in the reasons the school board is conducting a superintendent search in the first place.

Eudora currently has a qualified superintendent who admittedly doesn't always play well with others. His means of accomplishing what he believes and what time has proven are best for the school district have not always been gentle.

He's ruffled some feathers.

Finesse isn't his strong suit.

Feelings were hurt irreparably.

In small-town politics, the means don't always justify the end. Personal interaction is held at a higher premium. It's nearly impossible for personality issues not to creep into the decision-making process.

So what's their solution?

Hiring the team player, or course.

Unfortunately, the team player is happy in Holcomb. Darryl Pruter turned down the school board's offer Monday, leaving the school board to seek what it perceives to be the next-best-available candidate.

With Pruter in charge, the board would have never been embarrassed. While he may not have hadsome of the strengths the rising star possesses, he would have performed consistently for years to come. The district would have moved forward just fine with him sharing the leading role with the rest of the team.

Leadership by committee.

But is it the best system? Is it what's best for the Eudora school district?

Pruter's rejection gives the board another chance to consider this.

Sports often imitates life. This might be an example of just the opposite life imitating sports. If given the chance, would most football fans rather have the star running back or three or four backs who share the load?

History proves that the star can lead his team to championships, while the running-back-by-committee system often falls short especially in a tight game when it becomes necessary for someone to step up.

However, there is a down side to having the star. The star doesn't come inexpensively. In addition, with his success often comes ego. His leadership role can sometimes have an adverse impact on the all-important team concept. He becomes more difficult for management to control.

But it has been proven that come Sunday, he will do whatever it takes to make his team a winner. He is paid handsomely for his services and he takes most of the limelight, but he makes his team a winner.

Winning is important. The team concept can lead to victories. It remains to be seen if it can take a team to the highest level.

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