I was hoping to take part in a meeting today with the consultant the Oshkosh School District has hired to help them find a new Superintendent. I felt honored when I got the invitation to provide my input on this important community decision. But then I noticed the time of that meeting: 8:00 AM. Unfortunately, my job requires me to be here on the Radio Ranch until 9:00, so I asked for a later meeting time. I was told 8:00 was my time--and if I can't make it, tough luck. So, I thought I would share my recommendations in a forum where several thousand more people are going to hear it anyway.
1--I want someone who is a "numbers person" in charge of the District. We've had a parade of "ideas people"--those with plenty of creative ways to spend money, and not so many creative ways to save money. I want someone who accepts the realilties of property tax limits, Act 10 and enrollment-based state funding and doesn't complain at every turn about the "restrictions" being placed on them. I know this is a HUGE long-shot--but a person who uses the fiscally sound practice of Zero Based Budgeting would also be a bonus.
2--I want someone with backbone. Someone who will have the courage to stand in front of some upset PTAs in the near future and tell them they have a choice: they can have more, under-funded school buildings in the District--or they can have fewer, better-funded schools in the District. School consolidation is the future of Oshkosh, folks--and the longer we wait to undertake it, the more expensive and painful it is going to be.
3--I want someone who believes in open operation of the District's business. Sure, this is a bit self-serving for someone in the media--but everyone in the District wins when there is greater transparency in government. Our current School Board has decided to take an adversarial approach to the local media. Of course, if they would operate within the letter and the spirit of the state open meetings laws and the state elections laws maybe they wouldn't be so unhappy with what they hear on the radio and see in the newspaper.
4--And finally, I want someone who wants to be here. Someone who is going to actually move their family along with them to Oshkosh. Someone who doesn't see Oshkosh School Superintendent as a temporary position to bolster a resume that will be sent out for positions that don't require you to worry about budget numbers and people unhappy with the firing of the Boys' Basketball Coach--after you find out about it at the School Board Meeting two nights after it happens.
Sorry my list doesn't include "cutting edge teaching techniques" or "creating globally-aware young people" as priorities. I'm from that old-school philosophy that you should be able to read and write in proper English and add without using your smart phone when you graduate from high school.