Both Donna Korn and Katie Leach have a long history when it comes to schools and education.
When I wrote about my ten picks for Superintendent finalists, Donna Korn was one of the four most outstanding picks.
Her resume is impressive to say the least. Korn has a good handle on the operative view from the business side of the equation and that should make her an asset.
Having been a teacher, along with her years of activism as a parent should round out her experience.
A word of advice: Wanting to be a School Board member and actually being one are two completely different realities.
I would suggest that Donna apply her CEO experience immediately and not get caught up in the minutiae past Board members historically entangled themselves with.
Other members will be giving Board reports of how they met with this group or that one, I would hope that Donna will be giving reports about changing the wasteful culture within some of the departments that to this day bleed money.
And I would also expect Donna to hold the new Superintended publicly accountable from the dais when the you-know-what hits the fan and the media, which it always does.
That would be a refreshing change.
Katie Leach is more of an unknown to me but has an impressive resume when it comes to schools, children and education.
Working at Nova Southeastern University, her professional resume gives the impression of an ivory tower dweller, and goodness knows we’ve had more than our share of those in the past 40 years developing useless program after useless program to improve education.
There… Now that I’ve said it in no way means it will apply to Katie.
As I stated earlier, wanting to be a School Board member and actually being one are two entirely different realities.
The biggest problem for Katie (and Donna) will be inertia.
Either the system will apply just enough energy to overcome Katie’s, or she will be patient and persistent and apply the massive amount of energy required to overcome staff inertia.
Now let me appeal to the “Republican” in both.
You will be going through negotiation sessions as Board members and the one word you will not hear is the word “giveback.”
It is always about more money for salary, more paid days off, more money for special incentives, and not a word about cutting anything.
Take, take, take, without giving an inch.
The district stands to save tens of millions of dollars by cutting back on unlimited sick and vacation days alone.
You’ll also need to hold the line on something that I started as a Board member years ago.
When it comes to raises (if the money ever reappears) negotiate an across the board increase for every teacher and employee rather than stick to the antiquated step system keeping younger employees at slave wages for years on end.
Get rid of the step system entirely and hold up negotiations until the union agrees, if you must.
And for a real fix to the problem of incompetent employees bumping less senior employees when it comes to being pushed out, negotiate the bump schedule out as well. Bad employees should be cut, not moved somewhere else and replacing a good employee.
Historically, the Board does not know how to negotiate and will permit themselves to be led by either weak or conniving staff that will be happy to give away more money in the form of dollars or benefits.
Historically, there will also be union representatives standing outside the conference room trying to get Board members to spill the beans. Have SIU shoo them away if they show.
Stand firm. Make a real difference in finance and staff competency for the taxpayer.