Confused Yet Confident

We-Are-Enterprise-LogoConfused

It has been 18 days since the announcement the 9th grade would be moving to the high school next year and one week since the school board meeting, and then the post-board meeting. I attended both and am still confused as to why now.

After the shock wore off from the original decision I wanted to wait to learn more of the reasons this decision was made before commenting. The shock was that I had taken Dr. Wright at her word that she was not going to come in and make changes initially until she learned more about the system. In my mind, 43 days on the job seems rather quick to making a decision of this magnitude so I was surprised.

The presentation by Dr. Wright giving reasons for her decision was less than compelling for me as to why this move has to happen this year. There seemed to me to be more reasons to wait and include the 5th, 6th and 7th grade families in this decision making process instead of as an afterthought. Dr. Wright says the only decision made so far is the one decision to move the 9th graders to the high school. When there are so many other decisions that have to be made in order for this one decision to be successful I don’t understand why more of them were not considered and made before the trigger was pulled to move the 9th graders.

I agree with many in Enterprise that moving the 9th graders to the high school is a good decision, but only when the facilities are in place to handle the students and plans are in place for the junior high students, not just because registration is starting now and a decision had to be made.

When the question was asked by Dr. Reese during the post-meeting for anyone to speak up if they can honestly say the advantages of moving now versus waiting and planning this better and moving later outweigh the disadvantages, Dr. Wright did speak up and said, “Only if we have a tornado.”

When Dr. Wright was asked by Dale Stinnett if she knew the capacity of the high school she answered she did not. How can you make a decision to move almost 600 students to the high school if you don’t even know the capacity? Isn’t it reasonable for someone who claims to know capacity planning know the capacity of the high school?

When Dr. Wright began her comments at the post-meeting she said she thought that Enterprise was ready for this move and I believe she truly believed that. I also believe Dr. Wright has not been well served by some providing her this information. I don’t know who the ‘some’ are but it seems they are either pushing an agenda or just saying what they think the superintendent wants to hear. Neither is good.

A question I have not heard asked is how does this move affect any future growth at the high school for new families moving into the area or just moving within the area since it will now be over capacity? I suspect zoning changes will have to be made. Will many who now attend EHS, or their siblings, not be allowed to attend because they live outside the city limits?

The $550,000 question also arises again here. If this issue were resolved I believe the school system could better plan to add a 9th grade wing to the high school as was discussed in a January 2013 working session. I suspect that is one reason Dr. Milner was pushing to have this issue resolved.

 

Can this decision be slowed down?

Can this decision be reconsidered in light of new information Dr. Wright has now received or could solicit over the next couple of weeks if she chooses to? Certainly it can. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.

Confident

In spite of my questions and disagreement with the move this year I am confident that the people in the Enterprise City Schools can achieve success in this move if it does happen this year and I will support them in doing so. The people are what make up the school system and if they are sold and buy in to the goal there is no doubt it can be achieved. I am just not sure they, along with many of the affected families have been sold on this goal yet. I would put the teachers, administrators, and support staff of Enterprise City Schools up against any in the country. To borrow a recent PGA campaign, “These guys are good!”

However they are being put into a difficult situation that will test the leadership skills of the principals, administrators and superintendent, as well as the patience and fortitude of all.

I am also confident that Dr. Wright will learn from this decision and will move forward as we all do. I do support her leadership and want her to be successful in this position as long as I believe she is making decisions in the best interest of the students and teachers of Enterprise City Schools. Does that mean I will agree with every decision she makes? No. That also does not mean we cannot discuss issues, share information, air our differences when they do exist, and then both move forward on the same team. I think that makes any team stronger when differing views are expressed and considered. It helps you arrive at the best decision.

I do give Dr. Wright a lot of credit for staying, listening, and responding at the post board meeting meeting. She did not have to do that but that shows she does want to learn and hear from the community. That was encouraging to me. I agree with Mrs. Carter when she said she wished this meeting had been held a couple of weeks earlier.

Could this have been handled differently to have gathered more support for this decision or have arrived at a different decision? Yes, it could. I believe even Dr. Wright would agree with that.

Will there ever be unanimous support? No, not likely. There will always be those who disagree with any decision.

Is this the right thing at the right time for Enterprise City Schools? I don’t know.

I do know if this change moves forward now it will be a busy 155 days, or only 111 if you exclude weekends, between now and August 6th for teachers and administrators.

I have learned over the past year or so that questions I have are often shared by many others. That is why I still write on this subject. I wonder if that still holds true for these thoughts and questions. I am sure I will know the answer to that question soon. If you do have a comment, agreement or disagreement and are free to share it, please do. I would love to hear from you.

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 03/04/2014

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2 thoughts on “Confused Yet Confident”

  1. Another very thought-provoking piece,Stan. Like each of the others,it did me good and helped me to do some pondering of my own. I agree that the 9th grade move quite possibly can be a good thing…and I’m certain it can be “pulled off” administratively. Just how well it will be done is yet to be seen though I’m hoping it will go well. The one thing I learned over the years is that the success of a change is generally proportionate to the amount and quality of planning; and the bigger the change, the better the planning needs to be. I suppose that only the people on the “inside” know whether or not this requsite has been met. At this point, I’m afraid I have my doubts.

    As a 29 year old high school principal in the college town of Starkville,Mississippi I worked in an environment which logically placed academics ( yes,even in Mississippi !) at the top of the priority list. Largely because of the heavy concentration of students coming from well educated households, our school and school system was considered by many to be “progressive” and one of the better ones around. Although my move from the Starkville Schools after just four years was motivated somewhat by the opportunity to serve at the central office level in another respected system in another state , I had grown weary of the feuding and prevailing distrust that existed between the “city fathers”, the school board, and the superintendent. Sadly, I had seen firsthand over a short period of time how negativly and hurtfully this affected principals,faculty, and,yes, the most important of all… students. I saw with my own eyes how mistrust and hunger for power, authority, and control could keep even a “progressive” school/school system from becoming the best that it could be.

    Although I had grown up in Birmingham, I knew very little about Enterprise before moving here,and yet, after only two visits/ interviews in E’prise. (and an extemporaneous vist to Starkville by Mr. Morgan), I could sense that the E’prise schools were different from any I had ever served in. While the emphasis on academics and excellence in general was comparable, there was a readily observable difference in the “intangibles.” There was a trust and willingness shared between city government, school board,and superintendent that had so obviously been missing in Starkville. I knew,even at age 32, that Enterprise was unique.

    Until after the dreadful happenings of March 1,2007, I had seen time and time again where the “intangibles” within a community could overcome even the greatest of obstacles. I saw where mutual trust and support could move mountains while moving people and a community forward in a positive direction. And then came the move by the few to take “control.” For the first time in history the power brokers saw where they could gain control. For the first time in history the schools needed financial assistance.

    And here we are.

    Yes, our “leaders” can and likely will bring about the move of 9th graders to the High School…and perhaps do so with only X number of headaches and heartaches….BUT, my question is this : will our community,will our schools ever be the same? I think not until such time as the real salt of the earth people of Enterprise are made to realize what once made it “unique”…and then do whatever it takes to return to its once glorious status.

    As you’ve seen, I haven’t written or proofed this for publication purposes. I’m not even sure I’m capable of doing so. I’ve simply shared my heart and soul with another who cares as much as I do.

    God bless you,Stan.

    Bob

  2. Thanks for stopping by Bob and sharing your heart on this matter. As I mentioned in this blog I too believe the people of ECSS can make these changes happen and hope they are successful. Based on the level of information we have been receiving from the board over the last 9 months I expect there is not much difference with this issue. They likely have worked on and completed much more work than has been shared with the public. That is one reason I continue to write on this subject. I have questions based on the information I have been provided by the school board and news organizations. If more information was freely available fewer questions and suspicions would result but they choose not to provide that. I agree with what Reid Clark said at the board meeting. If the board would be open and honest and keep us informed that would significantly reduce rumors and suspicion for me, and I suspect, many others.

    I hope the time is soon for “the real salt of the earth people of Enterprise are made to realize what once made it “unique”…and then do whatever it takes to return to its once glorious status.”

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