Letter to the Editor

First let me say how much I appreciate all of the teachers, administrators and staff of the Simpson County School system.  As the husband of a former teacher, I know all too well the commitment it takes to be a teacher and the challenges that these men and women face every day with very limited resources.  I also appreciate our School Board and the tough job they have trying to manage a school system with many needs on a limited budget.  That said, I feel compelled to offer my thoughts about the upcoming election of three new school board members.  I think it goes without saying that all of us know the importance of a good education and of  having a high quality public educational system in our community.  It is well documented that this is one of the top criteria used when a business is looking to locate in a community or when a family is looking to move into a community.  Some people may elect to work in a community without a high quality public school option, however they will most likely not elect to live in that community.  Despite the best efforts of everyone involved in our school system, we continue to receive less than favorable scores as evidenced by the report that was published in this newspaper last week. If we expect our community to grow and attract more businesses and residents, we as a community are going to have to be committed to do our part to improve the quality of our public education.  Our school system is a business and, like any successful business, it must have a capable board of directors (school board) that understands the business aspects of the school and is qualified to make high level decisions to put our school on the path to becoming a school where you can receive the highest quality education possible.  Some of you may not know that once our current Superintendent of Education’s term expires, we will not elect the next Superintendent, he or she will be hired by the School Board and will serve at the will and pleasure of the board.  Given this change, it is more important than ever for us to elect highly qualified individuals to represent our county on the board.  Also, these newly elected school board members will serve a term of six years on the board, which is the same length of time that it takes a student that is currently in the eight grade to graduate high school.   The decisions that the board will make will impact the students for the rest of their lives, which is an awesome responsibility.  One of these decisions will quite likely be whether or not we should consider consolidating the two high schools in the county to achieve a greater level of efficiency and allow us to be more competitive by offering additional educational options.  Regardless of your personal position on this matter, it is a fiduciary responsibility of the school board to explore and evaluate every possible option that can result in an improved quality of education.

Most, if not all, successful businesses start out by developing a thoughtful and deliberate strategic plan that is both short-term and long-term in nature.  This strategic plan is a roadmap for what goals the business wants to achieve and a plan for how they expect to achieve these goals.  This plan is developed by first deciding on the goals to be achieved and then developing objectives and action plans to ensure that these goals are met, along with a timeline that sets out the expectations of when the goals should be achieved.  As you talk to and consider who you will support for the school board in your district, I would encourage you look at their qualifications as it relates to their ability to successfully manage the business aspects of our school and ask them about how they plan to go about establishing a strong and achievable strategic plan to improve the quality of public education in our county.  School board members are responsible for setting the strategic objectives for the school system, adopting policies to be implemented to help achieve those objectives and holding the Superintendent of Education accountable for implementing those policies.  They are not responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the school.  This is the responsibility of the school administrators and the Superintendent of Education who are better qualified and employed for the purpose of managing the school.

If we are going to be successful as a community in attracting new businesses and residents to our county, I am convinced that the single most important thing we can do is to improve the quality of our public education.  Without a high quality public educational option, our county will never be able to achieve the level of success that will allow our community to grow and our citizens to prosper. 

I hope that every citizen of Simpson County who is eligible to vote will thoughtfully consider who you believe is the best qualified person for the job and will support this candidate by voting for them in the upcoming election.


Robbie Barnes