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Monday, May 23, 2011

May 9 2011
I would like to thank the voters of Portage for supporting the Enhancement Millage. Continuing these funds will make it a bit easier to move forward with the anticipated reductions in revenues.

I would also like to thank those community members who voted for me. I appreciate your ongoing support. And we have heard from the majority of voters who are looking for a change in the board membership. As such, I hope the incoming board members will support this Board’s efforts to move ahead on the two most important tasks remaining this year, approving the budget for 2011-12 and hiring a new superintendent.

The upcoming budget discussions will be difficult. We need to work openly and honestly with everyone to determine which reductions are least offensive to our community. To those who received potential layoff or reassignment notices, please remember, the Board has not approved a budget yet. These notices are preliminary. I would have liked the Board to have been informed about the notices before they went out, but in the end, sending the advance notices is the correct process.
The selection of a new superintendent is equally challenging. Hopefully qualified candidates will not be discouraged by the uncertainty created with a change in board membership. I do believe all nine of us share the goal of finding a strong leader who will focus on student achievement as the number one priority. As we will hear in the results from the most recent Community Survey, our community has high expectations for our schools and our students.

It is time to set aside our differences and remember we are here to work for our students. Our actions do indeed set an example. Many are aware that a recall petition has been initiated to remove highly qualified board members before their term expires. Of course, recalls are perfectly legal. However, this effort is divisive for the community at a time when we need to come together. This recall can only further discourage potential superintendent candidates as well as new families moving into the area.

And so, in a move toward unity of purpose, would all Board members, current, past and incoming, as well as community members, please join me in formally and unequivocally denouncing the recall efforts. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thank you

Today is election day. No matter the outcome, I want to thank all those who have supported me these last four years. It has been challenging, to be sure. But I can honestly say, I believe good things have happened.

Here is a small sample of the most important changes:
- The teachers and building administrators are using more data to drive decisions, most importantly, in support of student learning.
- The District has the beginnings of a real scorecard which will serve as a common understanding of key elements of student achievement.
- The Board has put more emphasis on fiscal accountability to our taxpayers, actually reserving funds to minimize potential tax increaases to pay down the building debt.
- More Board members, parents and community members feel confident in asking questions about how we allocate our resources and they expect good answers.
- The District has posted online the checkbook, Board minutes, Board Policies, Board member contact information.

Most importantly, I am proud of the positive working relationship I have developed with my fellow board members, Kevin Hollenbeck, Randy VanAntwerp, Rusty Rathburn, Bo Snyder, Joanne Willson, and Geoff Howe. And this applies to those who left during my tenure, Wendy Mazer, Dale Posthumus, and John Whyte.

Most importantly, thank you to all of you who have voted for me. Your confidence in me is truly humbling.