Be the example of leadership in the midst of adversity
Kentucky School Advocate
By Davonna Page
Over the past several weeks, I have watched with sadness as local school board meetings have turned ugly. Community members have packed into board rooms, directing their frustrations and concerns about certain decisions – some of which were out of your hands – at you. Board business has been interrupted and at times decorum has been disregarded completely. I have spoken with some of you and listened to stories about these contentious encounters, even startling accounts of board members needing escorts to and from their vehicles for their own protection before and after meetings.
We have all dealt with angry parents and community members over the years, but certainly this goes beyond what most of us could possibly have imagined just a matter of months ago. As board members, we understand that not everyone is going to be happy with our decisions. There are even going to be disagreements among your local board colleagues about the direction you should take. But I hope we also understand that everyone wants the best for our children and our communities. With that common interest in mind, we must move forward, seeking consensus in good faith whenever possible.
Many of us, parents ourselves, empathize with those in our communities who entrust districts with their children. We understand that the frustration and anger stems from wanting what is best for the people we love. School board members regularly make decisions that can have significant impacts on those most precious to our constituents. We do not make those decisions lightly.
Through news reports and watching live streams of meetings across the Commonwealth, I have observed local members respond to stakeholders with great care and respect despite the rising temperature in the board rooms. For that I commend you. It is not always easy to show such restraint when responding to angry, hateful remarks that sometimes become personal.
Board teams are under a microscope like never before. This sudden renewed interest in our public schools, while at times painful, can serve as an opportunity to engage with our communities on a deeper level. That is, if we are up to the challenge. While we seemingly have the undivided attention of the public, let us demonstrate steadfast leadership and effective governance. Let us take action with confidence and listen with compassion. Let us be the ones to set an example for the students we serve, that adults can disagree respectfully and that true leadership does not always mean yelling the loudest.
The hard work and dedication you put in daily to providing a quality education to the children in your districts does not go unnoticed. It may not always be acknowledged, and you may rarely receive the appreciation you deserve, but know that it is admired.
Your association, the officers, board of directors, leadership team and staff are all here to support you in any way we can. On behalf of KSBA, we are profoundly grateful for your desire to serve and your willingness to lead.