Licking County News

Southwest Licking schools

Board advised to set 'realistic' goals for superintendent

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

It's good for Superintendent Robert Jennell to have goals, but not too many, members of the Southwest Licking school board said during a special work session Nov. 5.

The Nov. 5 meeting was a preliminary discussion of goals in preparation for the Nov. 15 board meeting, when they were to be discussed further.

Board members held the work session to discuss what to expect Jennell to accomplish this year. Jennell was hired in May to replace retiring Superintendent Forest Yocum.

Buckeye Association of School Administrators consultant John Thomas told the board that new superintendents always have a lot to deal with when they join districts, and the board should not set unrealistic goals for Jennell.

"Every superintendent replacement finds the same things," Thomas said.

Generally speaking, there are things the board wanted the old superintendent to address, but he or she didn't, but there also are things the former superintendent addressed very well.

"There are going to be some things that get squashed in the back, always," he said. "You can't do 100 percent of everything. The list is just too big."

Thomas said one issue that caught his attention is that Southwest Licking now has more "rookie," or less experienced administrative staff members, than when Yocum was superintendent.

"That means more attention from the superintendent to bring them up to speed," he said.

Jennell said he's currently doing that.

Jennell, who has plenty of goals for himself, said to make matters more complex, all administrators are likely working with outdated guidelines, and one of his goals is to update those guidelines as soon as possible. He also wants to address each building's budget and revisit how they are spending money.

Jennell said the individual school buildings could "tighten accountability" regarding their budgets. He plans to look at curricular programs, specifically how they relate to the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee and kindergarten classes.

He also wants to increase the time kindergartners spend with their teachers and reduce the time they spend riding buses.

"Kindergarten's a real hot button," Jennell said. "That's the first time kids go to school. I think that's where parents want to have a little more say.

"A big one is district resources. That's one we need to do as a team. Right now, we're duplicating services."

"Can all that be addressed in a year?" asked board Vice President Cindy Zaino. "I feel like we brought you in and then threw you in the fire."

Board President Don Huber agreed that looking at the way students are distributed, particularly among the elementary schools, is a priority.

"We're just out of space," Huber said, and it seems new students are being added every day.

"I want to make sure we're looking at options for kindergarten," said board member Debra Moore. "As a mom who's looking at kindergarten next year, I want them in front of teachers longer."

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