I have thought long and hard about the current West Carroll school controversy and feel that I must comment.
In my 39-year teaching career I have worked closely with 10 superintendents, so I know something about the characteristics of good ones.
Julie Katzenberger is one of the best. She has managed the complicated finances of a triple consolidation, maintained compliance on million dollars of grants, kept kids and teachers in session as much as was safely feasible during the pandemic, and kept the district solvent, even when teachers were resentful of denied requests.
I want to say unequivocally that Supt. Katzenberger does not deserve the vitriol which has been heaped on her!
The trouble began several years ago when she presented the recommendations of a required building utilization study to the board. The expert analysis recommended that the current high school in Savanna be closed because declining enrollment had eliminated the need for three attendance centers and because the high school building was the most expensive structure to maintain.
Savanna residents started a hateful campaign to malign every decision Supt. Katzenberger made, and Savanna board members became rudely obstructionistic throughout board meetings, behavior which I find particularly obnoxious.
The truths I see are these:
(1) West Carroll taxpayers should not borrow 8 million dollars to maintain an unneeded school building.
2) Paying to keep the current high school open diminishes the quality of our instructional program because it prevents us from adequately supporting research-based professional development for teachers, state of the art learning materials, targeted services from specialized interventionists, and powerful hands-on student experiences accessible only through in-person field trips.
3) Jealousy has no place in a consolidated district. If one town receives an award it reflects well on the entire district. Davis Trust money cannot be used in Savanna.
4) Superintendents are only directly involved in student discipline matters in tiny districts where they are also grade level principals.
5) West Carroll student behavior mirrors the aggressive and disrespectful behavior of some district adults. Sadly, this lack of respect for authority may not serve our students well in adulthood.
The only possible way that West Carroll CUSD 314 will survive this sad chapter in its history is if we support our highly qualified superintendent and make decisions based on verifiable facts.
At the end of the day we need to ensure that our 21st century students receive 21st century educations. Surely they deserve nothing less.