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September 22, 2019

8/7/2019 12:26:00 PM
Superintendent needs school board support

Dear Editor:
I am saddened by the ongoing turmoil within our school district. In my teaching career, in another school district, we had a divisive situation. I believe the lessons from that experience could be useful in La Conner:
Our elementary principal died suddenly one morning, discovered when he didn’t show up for school. A retired principal was hired to finish out the year, and then a new, and unknown to us, principal was hired for the next school year. What the staff didn’t know was that “Mike” was hired to make some significant changes in our school. Those changes included getting the budget under control, conducting serious staff evaluations, increasing student test scores and rebalancing the power structure held by certain staff members.
As you may imagine, he was not very popular. His actions upset some and angered others. Some staff members who had bullied their way into positions of power were not happy to relinquish their perceived status. The teaching staff reacted in three different ways: some got on board and worked to make the changes positive; some left for other jobs or retired; a few became a grumbling minority.
After reviewing the school district’s strategic plan, I have to think that Superintendent Whitney Meissner was hired by the La Conner School Board to make some hard changes also. Some of those were probably viewed positively; some made people angry. At the same time, she negotiated high raises for teachers and was the public face of a highly successful school levy. She remains very professional, as she should, not discussing “her side of the story” or personnel issues. At the same time, some very strongly worded letters have been making the rounds to build a case against Dr. Meissner, while providing very little factual information.
I worked for seven principals in my career. Mike turned out to be the best of all of them. He challenged us to be better, more effective teachers and staff members. He challenged and supported students in the same way.
I would like to suggest that, since Whitney Meissner is under contract, the board come out in support of their superintendent, the unions agree to work collaboratively with Dr. Meissner to make La Conner the best school district in which to work and go to school, and we, the public, support all of them to make this happen.
Maybe Whitney Meissner will end up being one of the best superintendents La Conner ever had. I hope so.
Connie Milliken
La Conner

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