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11/14/2013 Trio of new school board directors tell of their goals, aspirations

The new school board directors -- Jill Rowland, district 1, Robert Jolley, district 5 and Terre Davis, district 4 – began their service this week. With notebooks and pens in hand, they attended their first school board meeting on Tuesday, November 12. They replace term-limited members Gary Frickell and Randy Woods, who represent district 1 and 5 respectively, and Dave Bennett, who represented district 4 and was not re-elected to his seat.

The new directors bring dynamic ideas and energy to the board. Discussing their new positions, they all expressed interest in serving the school and community. They also mentioned their desire to assist administrators, staff, faculty and parents to build a better school.

Rowland, who represents district 1, says of her new position, "I plan to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can so I can be a good team player with my board colleagues. I want to serve the students, teachers, community and parents as knowledgeably as possible." Rowland’s experience includes working as a paraprofessional in special education and teaching aviation classes for the past 20 years.

She views the school on a definite path to success. "It’s a strong school now," she says, "though we can make it even stronger." For her long term goal, she says, "I’d like to get the 71.5 percent rating up eight points or more so that our school will be recognized as a School of Distinction."

Rowland also plans to regularly visit the school and listen to staff, students and faculty about the education dispensed there. "I look forward to learning what the school needs and how I can help," Rowland says.

Jolley, elected for District 5, has similar goals for the school. Describing his short-term goal, he says, "I want to look at budget, see where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going." He plans to work with parents, teachers and Superintendent Selle "to do whatever we can do to increase scores of students long term." Jolley adds, "I thank the citizens of Custer County who showed faith in voting for me; I will work hard with other school board members to make a better district and to bring scores up to where we collectively think they need to be."

The new director of district 4, Davis, expresses her desire to see more transparency in board discussion and decisions. She also wants to see more public involvement in board business. She says, "I’d like to see background materials given out to the audience on agenda items and public comments allowed early instead of later in the meeting. The public should be able to participate in discussion on agenda items and, when the directors vote, each member should provide a reason as to why they voted as they did."

Davis who has a wealth of experience in school administration and school board composition, also feels the board should engage in a goal-setting session that would eventually lead to developing a five-year strategic plan. "I want to build positive public relations," she says, "which includes involving the county commissioners and town boards."

Having participated in their first meeting, the directors have a small taste of what serving on a school board entails. They weathered the meeting just fine, asking a lot of questions, which shows their desire to learn about school administration and issues.

– Cyn Williams