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SUBMITTED by Kari Durham, North Rose-Wolcott Board of Education (10-Nov-2010)
The great aim of education is not knowledge but action. Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903)
I am Kari Durham the 2010-2011 NRW School Board President. Before I tell a little about myself, I would like to thank my fellow board members and the administration and staff of NRW who continue to welcome active citizens and enable us to witness intricacies shaping our home education system. This year has already been a tremendous learning experience.

I’d like to share a little about me. I was elected to the board only a few short years ago and have grown into the officer’s seat with reckless abandon. The work of the board is both challenging and fulfilling as a parent & community member. It is with great pride that my husband and I are raising our children in North Rose. I continue to work at a family-owned company in Wayne County and have earned the reputation of being outspoken and willing to do the research that leads to the right questions being answered. Having served as NRW PTSA President first led me to this place and I look forward to each step ahead.

With my experience until now and guidance received from my board cohorts, I hope that I can meet the expectations of our community. In hiring our new Superintendent, John Walker –we’ve made enormous strides in the right direction. That leads us to the new basis for this column. Community linkage. The board will utilize this space to reveal the “good, bad & ugly” from the NRW education community. Each submission will highlight items worthy of applause and some items we’re certain will cause a reaction & initiate a response.

The Good:

Our schools are attracting more families. While many schools in our area continue to face declining enrollment we have earned bragging rights as our numbers have increased. Although we have made difficult decisions based on steady declines of the recent past – we are embracing the news of higher numbers. It is a fact that we are leading the way in examining the housing of students and the consolidation of campuses. It is also a fact that as a taxpaying citizen we need this district to be a draw to those commuting to work outside the confines of our rural area. We want those seeking work to also seek out the best education system – and that we offer! Bragging rights. If someone is considering work within traveling distance they most often ask – “how are the schools?” – We can claim greatness and potential!

The Bad:

Budget times are upon us. NYS faces an on-going recession while broke. That’s bad. There is little silver lining to this and what we need is concrete numbers to insure we keep NRW on the right fiscal path. It is the task of board to request specifics from the business office and deliver input from our citizens on what we feel are necessities moving ahead while informing these same constituents of the realities in today’s classroom. We have to establish a relationship which allows us to face harsh circumstances and deliver our children the best programs within our reach. Our budget calendar has been created and we’re planning. Planning will be key as we look long range.

The Ugly:

The NYS legislature and State Dept. of Education are providing a feast of comic relief moments. But, right now – it’s not a laughing moment! For as much as I’d like to reassure you that these offices are filled with people like me – looking out for our children, - I’m working not to lose faith. They continue to steadily pass initiatives that impact our students directly, cost enormous amounts of money and as with most things handed out – each mandate is unfunded. & of course, they’ve propelled limitless ideas on to the fast track for implementation before asking how this will impact learning, effect data research or the budgetary bottom line. Gracious of them, isn’t it? The reality of the new cut scores, the reality of our need to develop new strategies, new plans and new NRW systems – ugly work ahead. We also have negotiations coming at a time when there are numerous memos regarding teacher hiring policies, and strategizing in regards to APPR standards are just being articulated. Poor timing? Some of these items are beyond our local controls which I also find UGLY. But, it’s our job to research ways to make an impact from here….it’s an (ugly) challenge.

The board won’t end on a sour note. There are good things and NRW is full of good people. All you have to do is visit (and you’re welcome!) any one of our buildings to feel the positive energy. The campuses are in the best conditions ever as the capitol project moves ahead (on schedule) & the staff and students are engaged. The times are changing. This isn’t business as usual in these economic times. BUT our children still need us. & we will look out for them! Thank you for your time.

Next School Board Meeting : Tuesday, December 14, 2010 @ 7 PM at the High School.

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