Kruse’s Korner

Notes from Jeff Kruse, East Sac County Superintendent

November 6, 2019

During my youth, I was a fan of the series Star Trek, as I liked to watch the conflict between Captain Kirk, Bones, and Spock play out each week as they found ways to work together to solve seemingly impossible situations.  In the movie, The Wrath of Khan, Spock quotes a line he heard from Captain Kirk earlier as he faced a challenge.  As Spock is dying, he says, “The needs of the many out weight the needs of the few, or in this case the one.”  I often think of this quote during difficult situations.  We all want what is best for students and staff, but some decisions must be weighed on their merits of benefiting the many, as opposed to the few or one.

Early in my tenure at ESC, I shared some information about facing tough decisions head on like a buffalo, instead of turning away from the storm like cows.  When a storm approaches, cows tend to move with the storm making the storm last longer, while buffalo tend to face the storm.  It is difficult during the storm, but the reality is buffalo tend to survive storms better because of their instinct to face the storm instead of running away from the danger.  At ESC, many storms seem to have brewed over the district including:  finances, achievement data, building issues, climate and culture.  I’ve challenged the staff and board to develop a plan to face each of these situations more like buffalo instead of cows.  Each challenge is difficult to face, but by working together we can face the challenges with positive solutions for each issue.

One financial issue faced was the voter approval of a new Revenue Purpose Statement on the November 5th election.  Approximately 80% of the voters gave approval for the district to continue to use SAVE funds as approved by legislation last year.  These are the one cent revenues shared on a per pupil basis for infrastructure needs in school districts.  For ESC, we currently generate about $800,000 annually for transportation, technology, and facility improvements.  The communities support will allow the district to continue to use those funds until 2051 or a new RPS is approved in the future.

On November 26, the ESC board of education will meet in regular session and for an organizational meeting.  The retiring board will complete business during the regular meeting; during the organizational meeting the new board will approve various committee assignments and set the date for future board meetings.  The new board will begin taking action to set direction for the district at the December board meeting.  One of the first issues to address will be developing a plan on facilities.  This plan will have a direct impact on district finances and should help improve structural challenges to improve academics and climate.

While we only served together for a short time, I want to thank Mr. Rodman and Mr. Wellington for their service to the ESC district.  Sometimes serving as a board member can be a thankless position, but I appreciate their willingness to serve.  Overall board member’s views are more aligned than different.  We all want to do what is best for students, and sometimes we may disagree on how to accomplish that responsibility to serve.  In addition, thank you to Mrs. Mahler, Mr. Jansma and Mrs. Kluver for your desire to serve ESC students, staff, and district.  Together we can face the challenges placed before the district and accomplish the district’s mission.

 

Oct. 18, 2019

Sometime last year I attended a AEA meeting and listened to the guest speaker, Jimmy Casas.  During the AEA meeting, he was presenting some information from a book he had written, Culturize.  In the book, Jimmy believes a positive school culture has four core principals:  champion for all students, expect excellence, carry the banner, and be a merchant of hope.
  • Champion for all Students – We must always begin with the belief that kids can.  If you have transformed your mindset to a belief system not deterred by failure or the unknown, you can stay the course and focus on the long-term rather than the short-term.  It is our moral imperative to advocate for all students until they are ready to experience personal success.  Being motivated by hope and faith allows us to act in ways that inspire others to do the same.
  • Expect Excellence – Staff members should expect this from one another and from their students.  Regardless, students should be held to the highest academic standards for learning when it comes to academics and behaviors.  When we don’t do this, we are saying to them we don’t believe you are able to learn or act appropriately; or we don’t care.  We tend to use these negatives as reasons to give up on a child.  Jimmy feels we give up on students who struggle with self-discipline or poor confidence.  We cannot let them quit.
  • Carry the Banner – As staff members, we must speak positively about our school and carry a positive voice.  When we don’t carry a positive banner, we begin to lose our sense of pride, our identity, and a desire to invest in the community.
  • Merchant of Hope – We may not be able to decide who we serve as students, but we do decide the kind of climate in which we serve them.  We serve in a profession where we are blessed every day with the opportunity to help change the course of a student’s life by our words, actions, and beliefs.
We cannot allow average or the status quo to be our standard.  Our goal should be to create schools and communities that equip young people to develop skills, habits, and competencies for their lives.

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