Archive for Thursday, January 29, 2009

USD 491 discusses district priorities

January 29, 2009

The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education had a special meeting Thursday to discuss the district’s priorities in light of the likelihood of budget cuts. As the meeting came to a close, board member Belinda Rehmer tearfully recounted working as a paraeducator in the district’s schools.

Rehmer said she was proud of the students then and was even more proud now, knowing where the district came from.

Indeed, the district has improved during the last 15 or so years. During the mid-1990s, the district’s high school dropout rate that was highest in Kansas. But as recently as December, Eudora High School received national recognition when the U.S. News and World Report chose it as one of the top high schools in the country.

Superintendent Don Grosdidier echoed Rehmer’s sentiments in that it was important for not just the faculty and staff, but also members of the community to realize how far the district had come and what got it to where it was.

“We’ve had rough times before and we’ve come through them and gotten stronger as a result,” Grosdidier said. “This community has weathered a lot of storms before, and we’ll weather this one. It’s important in times like these to realize that.“

Board Vice President Joe Pyle said it also was important for the district to understand why it does what it does.

During the meeting, the administrators of each of the district’s buildings and programs discussed the district’s core values of teacher collaboration, small class size, personalized education and early childhood programs.

However, at no time were finances discussed, which Grosdidier said was necessary in order to maintain a proactive attitude.

“Talking about money right now is negative from the standpoint that if you start putting dollar figures on everything, people immediately get into reactionary mode,” he said. “That also sends out a message that there is some kind of list of potential cuts. We felt like we needed to approach this proactively and establish a framework.”

The consensus of the board as well as administrators who made presentations to the board was that people were what were important to the district’s success.

“Two things that stood out in the presentation were that our people have been the most important factor in achieving the goals set forth by the board of education, and that we continue to value those goals as priorities,” Eudora Middle School Principal Richard Proffitt said.

Teachers in attendance also said the meeting was a positive and important experience.

“It’s great to work in a district where there is such open communication among the board, administration and staff members,” said Bob Sailler, EMS instructor and Vice President of the Eudora National Education Association. “We are achievinhing outstanding accomplishments in our district. Mr. Grosdidier’s remarks about the district’s priority of recruiting and retaining great teachers cannot be overlooked. The question is going to be, ‘how do we get the most bang for our buck?’”

Grosdidier said he hoped the conclusions reached during the meeting would send a calming message to the staff and faculty.

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