Friday, April 23, 2010

Leadership in a time of crisis

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” –Steve Jobs

My middle school principal colleagues and I spent an hour on Tuesday morning with APS Superintendent Winston Brooks discussing the budget crisis facing our district. During our meeting, Winston spoke frankly about the difficult choices facing the Board of Education and his leadership team. He patiently explained the options on the table and the impact of each choice on middle schools and the district at large. He calmly delineated the pros and cons of each alternative and he thanked us for our help in leading our schools in the midst of arguably the most difficult budget year in several decades. He did not point fingers, make excuses, or scapegoat. He explained that tough decisions had to be made – the toughest of his career – but that we would get through the crisis if we all worked together. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with his honesty and humility. I believe all of those principals present understood just a little better how truly difficult it must be to be in his shoes.

When asked when we might know what our budget amounts were for 2010-2011 we were told we may get them as early as next week. But Mr. Brooks indicated that he wanted to be certain every avenue was explored rather than releasing the budget too early. At this point, I do not know exactly what our budget for Taylor MS will be for next year. It is my sincerest hope that we do not have to cut staff. I will do everything possible to economize in other areas before we cut people. Once we have our budget amounts, I will work with our school leadership team including our instructional council to prepare a budget that maintains electives, keeps class sizes at manageable levels, and supports the high quality of education you have come to expect at Taylor.

In the midst of the gloom surrounding the budget, there are more than a few rays of sunshine. Consider:
• The Taylor girls’ soccer team was unbeaten in conference play and will be the #1 seed entering tournament play. The Taylor boys’ team had a winning record and also qualified for tournament play.
• The Taylor track team is undefeated and has been simply stellar according to our coaches.
• Our landscaping project is complete and looks magnificent. All that remains to be done is the final district inspection. Please drive by and check it out.

Finally, I strongly encourage parents, grandparents, and guardians to attend our spring student-led conferences April 29 and 30. Your child’s advisor should be in contact with you in the next week to arrange a conference time. There won’t be school those two days. I believe you will find these 30 minutes to be time well spent. Thank you!

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