Let’s Talk About My New Position

The position of assistant superintendent that I have recently accepted has created some concern in our community. Two gentlemen came to a BOE meeting to express their displeasure with the quick manner in which the decision was made. A couple of parents came to this week’s meeting, concerned that we may have cut program for the addition of this position. And someone in our community whom I respect very much sent a letter of concern to our BOE members. All ask legitimate questions.

While I appreciate that none of the concerned members of our community have expressed any displeasure with me personally, I do want to respond to the concerns as a leader in our district.

Our BOE members have acted in good faith, making the best possible decisions for our district. They do not act rashly and have discussed the need for instructional improvement for as long as I have known them. They gave considerable thought and discussion to this, in executive session. It was in executive session because confidentiality in regard to personnel issues trumps the public’s right to know in every case. Our superintendent has been very honest with everyone from the BOE to the community in open session about a succession plan and the BOE’s desire to keep me on staff. They did not have to be so open about these points, could have just said that we had additional money available from Governor Spitzer and planned to use it to focus on K-12 instructional improvement through the addition of an assistant superintendent. That would have been the safer bet, but in true fashion, Mr. Rinaldi and the BOE gave the public ALL of the information considered, not just some.

I’ve also been asked why the community didn’t vote on the addition of the position. We add and eliminate positions every year, as our needs indicate. As our enrollment and class size indicates, we may add or eliminate a teacher or two, support staff, and employees in every other aspect of our organization. The BOE votes on these issues and you trust their judgment every time. Staffing changes do not require a  public vote.

It is true that I have had several other opportunities to consider in this past school year. While I enjoy my job at Gowanda very much, I would be a fool to dismiss any other inquiries as to my interest without careful consideration. That fact, coupled with Mr. Rinaldi’s desire to prepare for his own departure or retirement, has led our BOE members to PLAN for sustained leadership, something I am extremely pleased to see them doing. It is forward thinking on their part.

I’m honored that they have shown me this support and they have received my commitment to stay in Gowanda and to help to lead our district. I have worked hard to improve our high school over the past three years and am proud that my efforts are recognized. I feel passionately about our ability to improve instruction for every child and I am up to the task at hand. I lay down the challenge that no administrator will be more committed to the children of this community than I am.

I also think there has been some confusion as to my salary. It is $25-35,000 less than I keep hearing in our community. While I do not think it’s appropriate to report on this blog, I would be happy to discuss it with anyone who wants to call me at school. And absolutely, we would NOT cut programs for kids to fund my position. This is the only concern that has bothered me because I fight every day for more for our students. I believe that our expenditures should directly relate to instructional program and that we should continually push to get the most bang for our students possible, while maintaining a fair and reasonable tax rate for our residents. There remains no increase to taxes for the 2007-2008 school year.

I regret that there wasn’t time for more discussion publicly prior to my appointment. I’m certain that if people in our community knew we were previously paying BOCES support personnel only $68.00 less per day than they’re currently paying me, they would realize this isn’t a position that fell out of the clear blue sky. And the BOCES support personnel were not managers, serving only as staff development and curriculum advisors, where I will have direct line responsibility for our instructional programs. Much more bang for your buck here, I promise.

In addition, I have the opportunity to learn more about school management from a district wide perspective. Every ounce of knowledge I can gain will only make me that much better to serve the Gowanda students, faculty, staff and community for a very long time.

There you have it G-Town, but if questions remain, please call me at extension 6001, I’ll answer each and every one.

  1. This post certainly generated more conversation than I anticipated and that’s probably more because of Thomas’ comment than my original post. Thank you to the readers who responded and entered into the conversation. My reason for writing is the same as it often is, I want to add my voice to the conversation in the community. Sometimes in a school community, members have concerns or questions about a decision and they talk and talk about it without going to the source. Jonathan’s right, it was awkward for me to write this but it didn’t feel right to remain silent either. Not when I talk about so much here. And since no one was asking me directly, I figured my blog was a place to answer much of what I was hearing. I asked the hard questions of our BOE too and they stepped right up, prepared to answer any and all concerns. My positive remarks about our school leadership, from the superintendent to the BOE, are as genuine and transparent as the rest of my blog.

    If I didn’t agree with Thomas’ right to ask the hard questions, I would have simply moderated his comment. But that wouldn’t be genuine and transparent, would it? I hope that allowing all comments, provided they aren’t salacious or inappropriate, will speak to my integrity as much as what I write. Sort of the “proof in the pudding”, isn’t it?

  2. From the first I’ve liked your blog, and yet I think Thomas raises important points (though not in the most appropriate way).

    Your district added a new administrative line. That’s money. It could be two teachers, some supplies – it’s money that could be used elsewhere. The district explained why it’s chosen to spend the money in this way, for a new administrative position.

    Honestly, their reason is fine. And if you’re half as good as it would appear from your writing, well-warranted. But it really should fall on the district to make the case.

    There is something forthright and commendable about you stepping forward here. But there is also something awkward about defending your own promotion. This good-faith post might appear self-serving, especially in regards to the praise you direct to your employer. I can understand Thomas’ cynicism at your attempt to explain the district’s action, and I hope you do as well.

    I think your community is lucky to have you. And this does seem to have been a good move for all. But it is entirely appropriate to ask the hard questions.

  3. Kim,
    It is without hesitation that I add my comment to your new position. I have worked as support staff at the school for many years now. Never, have I felt so encorporated into the position I hold, in a positive way; “thanks to you.” The students have always been first with you, however; you also show support and an attitude of caring to your workers. For me, I am sad that you won’t be my immediate supervisor anymore. For the students, I am truly thankful that your ideals will continue to be a positive learning tool! I have observed you many times helping the kids that need you so much. Only in a comfortable environment, can a person truly learn. The day has come for all of us to realize that school is an extension of the childs family. Many of us in Gowanda care about our kids’ everyday problems. this makes it possible for us to help them, in return it helps them concentrate on their work and improves their studies.

    The knowledge you have acquired through your education, coupled with your leadership skills make you an asset to our childrens’ future learning.

    Keep up the great work, and I’m proud to see you promoted. Soon the tax payers in this community will see evidence of this statement, “that was the right thing to do”!

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  6. Kim…congratulations! Your promotion is not only well deserved, it’s a great opportunity for the students and teachers in the entire district to learn from your vision and your own learning practice. That’s what is so important about your work, that you engage and model in what you feel is powerful learning. And you make it transparent for everyone to see, even those who disagree. What is unfortunate is not that Thomas has reacted negatively. What is unfortunate is that he is unable or unwilling to seize the chance to model respectful disagreement in a public format. I’m guessing that’s because he never saw the need or was taught to do so. But your students need models of substantive, meaningful dialogue carried out in open spaces. They need to see the ways in which tone and sarcasm diminish the argument. And they need to see people in positions of authority struggle with their own practices as well.

    Thanks for being such a great model, sincere best wishes on your new post, and, most importantly, happy 1st blog birthday.


  7. Kim,

    You have many more supporters than people like “Thomas”. My only regret is that you will not be my daughter’s principal anymore, but I am looking forward to the changes you can make for Gowanda in your new position.

    Congratulations to you and always remember you have many people behind you!

  8. Kimberly — 9 of the 10 previous comments spoke in great detail in response to your post and new position, and I’m not sure I can add anything more substantive than what already has been shared.

    Instead, I will say the following:

    If I had a child who was fortunate enough to attend your district, I would consider it an honor. Not only because of your involvement, but because the overall leadership team thinks with wisdom and acts with strategic consideration. Positioning for “sustained leadership” in a day and age where superintendents have a “3 year” tenure on average is vital. And rare.


    If I were a teacher/principal who was fortunate enough to work for your district, I would consider it a privilege and pleasure. Period.

    Re: Thomas and his comment/tone, I am not too dismayed by hit. In the political spectrum of public school education, it is rather tame for a detractor actually. And as they say, it is better to have the criticism made public than to have it fester silently beneath the surface. Public voices can be brought into the conversation; silent voices never can.

    Congratulations to the district for making a fine choice; congratulations to you for the opportunity; congratulations to your colleagues and kids for having leadership that makes innovative decisions with an eye on the future.


  9. Kim,
    Obviously you have a lot of supporters in Gowanda. And where there is support there are critics. I think that someone calling you greedy, as Thomas did, is so far off base, I don’t even know how to start to address it. Mostly because he has already developed an opinion based on 1/2 truths, and there will be no changing his perspective, but partly because, I think it needs to be said, that you didn’t go seeking this new position, <b>it sought you.</b> Just as you didn’t seek to leave Gowanda, <b>other schools brought these opportunities to you.</b>
    The other thing that bothers me is the impression that because we are educators who care about the students and the community, that we should be bleeding hearts and do this for free. HELLO… community servants or not, we all have the right to further our careers!! As I’ve said many times, Gowanda is just lucky that your idea of furthering your career, is to further the success of Gowanda (or whatever school is lucky enough to have you as an employee).
    Crystal Furman

  10. Kim,

    I read the post by Thomas and was most dismayed by the lack of respect in the tone of the writer. The salaries of all of the administrators in a district are such a small percentage of the total budget and the research is very clear on leadership and how it makes such a difference in all organizations. Succession planning makes a lot of sense, also, and I applaud the Gowanda Board for taking the necessary steps to keep such a highly qualified individual as you interested in staying at Gowanda.

    Too few quality candidates are even considering the Superintendency anymore due to the long hours and lack of respect given the position, anymore. Thank you for stepping up to the plate; we desperately need quality people like you to continue in the profession for the sake of our children.

    Lastly, I wonder if you were Thomas’ child if he would be blogging negatively about your salary or bragging to his friends about how hard you have worked to get to this point in your career and what an asset you will be to the district. I think the latter.

    Keep the faith.

  11. I think it is wonderful that the BOE has been proactive in this matter. You have been a great asset to our school/community. It is not just the board that believes in you, it is our community. Just remember that there always has to be a crictic. Good Luck Kim and keep up the great work!!!

  12. You decided to take a position offered to you by the Superintendent and the BOE. The position has more responsibilities and you’ll earn more money – nothing earth-shattering there! A school district is no different from any other business when it comes to personal advancements; those who choose to ‘advance’ can, and you did. My only suggestion is to focus on your new position and leave the clean up to those who did the polluting.

  13. I am reminded of a quote by Roland Barth,

    “If you want to predict the future, create it! This is precisely what school people now have the opportunity – and the imperative – to do.”

    Kudos to Gowanda for considering what the future might hold. In education, we cannot shut when we wish to retool. Having the foresight to ensure consistency is visionary.

  14. Kimberly,
    I am thinking that your board and superintendent are being very thoughtful in their decisions for students in education. I wonder what materials and resources Thomas believes that your district is doing without. More books, more art supplies, more markers/pencils/paper, more sports’ uniforms, more cafeteria choices – none of these mean a better education for students. Think about the reports we read month after month about much schools spend per pupil and how so many of these schools are still failing. Money and supplies do not educate!

    Leadership makes a better education for our students – leadership in the classroom, leadership by the administration, leadership by the Board of Education. Under a leader that helps support curriculum and instruction, your district will get a clear, articulated curriculum, data-driven instructional decisions and more support in instruction allowing teachers to continue to grow and learn even more than they know now about what works for the needs of our kids of the 21st Century. Gowanda and most schools need someone at the helm to lead this, and if not you, then I am not sure who should take the lead. You are student-centered and you care about kids in Gowanda. You are knowledgeable about what works in curriculum and instruction. You are a learner and never stop growing as an instructional leader. Two thumbs up for Gowanda to be forward thinking enough to realize the impact that this will have on Gowanda and its community.

  15. Kimberly,

    I read every post, and have only commented once, when you asked folks to identify themselves for purposes of identifying the audience.

    But after reading the first comment, knowing that you have the option of removing (or never having posted to begin with) I am compelled to let you know — for whatever it is worth — that, from my far angle, the criticism is without warrant.

    You are opening conversations. The board believes in you, in what you do for kids.

    In my experience the public is largely misinformed when it comes to the amount of money school systems spend on administrative costs. You need to go no further in revealing salary or defending the process. Let others do that work for you.

    Keep it up. And thanks, from Oregon.

  16. Kim,
    As always, you put it all right out there. I too applaud you for addressing concerns regarding your appointment rather than sit back and just let whatever is said, be said. I know your commitment to children and if there were to be any loss to students or programs, you would not have allowed that to happen. Superintendents are hard to find. Superintendents that are experienced instructional leaders even harder. Many district spend thousands of dollars with search consultants looking for a new superintendent when the one they have moves on or retires. There is generally a step back or at least little movement in a district as the new superintendent becomes familiar with the district’s initaitives and direction. A succession plan makes good sense. I was one of those people that were brought into th position as a result of succession plan. The district was rural, very small and had a history of turning over superintendents. The board had the determintation and foresight to “grow their own” and the district continued with all of its initiatives and direction without losing a beat.
    Big companies often promote from within and succession is commonplace. Why should education be different. I for one believe we should nurture and grow the good people we have instead of thinking there is always someone better out there.

  17. Kimberly, I applaud you for being so upfront about hiring/community issues in your post above. It speaks to your character that you have allowed the comment from “Thomas” to stand on your blog, as uninformed and unreasonable as it is. Usually that kind of verbal rough-and-tumble is reserved for bulletin boards that have fairly loose standards. But this is your conversation, and I can only admire your integrity from afar.

    I’ve been on the lookout for supe blogs because I desperately want one to get up and running in our district. Our supe, whom I had the great pleasure to interview, investigate, and hire three years ago (along with six other board of ed members), is world-class and the community loves him. So here I am, gawking at your blog! 🙂

    We recently gave our supe a considerable raise, and anticipating an outcry from the anti-tax crowd, I wrote a couple of mini-essays called “What Is a Superintendent Worth (Parts I and II). I published these thoughts on my blog, and gave them to our major metro paper and the local paper. The metro reporter based her news article on them. My goal was to put things in perspective for our patrons (20,000+ students).

    I live in the Wild West now, but it’s a joy to look at the NY State map and see your town. I memorized the map in 7th grade. I can still draw the outline! Do you still teach NYS history to sevies? (I started out in Brooklyn and eventually moved out to Farmingdale. Bid NY goodbye in 1962 to attend college in Seattle.)

    Keep on working for those kids and I’ll keep checking back here. Best wishes for you in your new job (and if you do check those articles, don’t be put off by my posts about a TX supe who really messed up).

  18. Well, Well, Well……….I guess she did exactly what she was supposed to do…..say how wonderful the board of education is, how proactive they are, how wonderful the superintendent is, how what is is hearing out in the street about her salary is waaaaaaaay more than she is actually getting, (oh, but she fails to place her salary on here when it is public information….but she apparently thinks that the public’s right to know and public information is….oh, let me quote her specifically…….oh yes, she “does not think it’s appropriate to report on this blog”—-so, that tells alot about her character. And yes, the money used to pay for her salary could have been used to go to instructional materials and supplies for children………what a shame……if she has so many other opportunities to consider this year, I say she should have taken them and let the money go to the children instead of her pocketbook. She says she fights everyday for MORE for our students???? well except on this day when she fought for MORE for her own pocketbook…

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