The Center School District is facing multiple issues of real and serious significance:
A priority right now is getting students safely back into buildings with support for the transition back into full-time in-person schooling. Beyond that, adequate communications with parents/families, students and staff is a need that impacts nearly every issue that Center faces. However, I do believe that incoming/new Superintendent Cargile has begun to address these issues, and I very much look forward to the opportunity to work with her and to supporting her progress.
- Center has struggled in the last few years with its academic performance. We simply must address this decline -- starting with the board, with honesty, and a focus on the students. It is clear that specific changes in policy and practice have led to the academic (APR) decline, and we must take stock of these changes and begin to reverse these negative trends.
- Center has been losing many of its best teachers over the last three years. In only three years, more than half of the high school teachers left the district, and this extraordinarily high turnover has had a big impact on student achievement.
- Students want and need teachers they have gotten to know over a period of time, and who they know care for them. This was a characteristic of Center not long ago -- teachers and staff who took the time to really get to know their students. That culture has not been supported by administration, and this failure has been harmful to the district and its students.
- Teachers who do not have supportive administrators -- especially those teachers who are considered top-level in their fields -- can easily go elsewhere, and many teachers left our district with broken hearts: they loved our students, but realistically knew that they could not serve their students well in the environment that has been created over their objections.
- The district has been purchasing many products -- from wellness programs that many teachers find demeaning to unrequested instructional materials that many teachers do not find useful to expensive workshops that don't really advance the cause of a collaborative culture -- the funds used for these things would be far better spent on needs that our students actually have.
- The success of our district is and will always be entirely based on relationships with people, NOT programs. No program has ever been or ever will be successful without building the relationships needed first. Teacher buy-in is also necessary -- top-down management strategies "tight control" simply cannot be successful.
- Our students do face real challenges, and having the appropriate support structures in place, including adequate counselors with adequate time to develop supportive relationships with our students, is the only way to address the academic achievement that is so important for our students.
- Perhaps the greatest need of Center right now is to increase the value of community input. We must welcome the input and honor the wishes of our community in everything that we do. Public schools are meant to serve the public!