Reader Reply

School Administrator, October 2018

Re “Making School Scheduling More Strategic” by Nathan Levenson (May 2018):

School schedules, while a major driver in determining the quality of education students receive, often are GIVEN TOO LITTLE THOUGHT by many people. In fact, schedules should be rethought every couple of years over the course of multiple meetings that begin in late fall so there is time to work out priorities and hiccups and roll it out in way that all stakeholders understand.

Levenson offers a template for such meetings and offers a perspective that too few administrators have regarding scheduling.

My only pushback would be the timing. While I favor slow growth, I’m also cautious of change that is doled out partially over a couple of years as it can cause “change fatigue.” If the priorities of a school are clear and the changes are to be made, I argue for ripping off the Band-Aid.



Relations With the Board
Terre Davis’ Board-Savvy Superintendent column (May 2018) regarding superintendent/school board communications was interesting and timely. As a retired superintendent and state executive director of an AASA affiliate, I know firsthand how important these relationships truly are. Little gets accomplished without both parties being committed to a common direction and agreed-upon way of doing the public’s business together regarding its public schools.

As a consultant working with school districts around the country, I have found board/superintendent retreats to be an excellent time to think about and discuss how things are going and what might be improved, including, as Davis indicated, the idea of communication, particularly transparent communication.

Providing board members with a solid orientation to board work, even as candidates prior to the board election, is a great idea. Having the board establish norms and then reviewing and recommitting to those norms is helpful. The more these shared commitments can be identified before challenges arise, the better.

As Davis indicates, perhaps the best way to forge a positive and productive superintendent/board relationship is to commit to “no surprises!”


Bullying Attention
Every school district I’m aware of is working progressively to address the ever-rising accusations and reports of bullying involving students. As I read the My View column “Bullying: ‘We Care ... We Can Help’” by Tamara Uselman (June 2018), I reflected on a parent’s allegation of “severe bullying” that led to her daughter being admitted to the hospital for observation and evaluation.

In a situation quite similar to that described by Uselman in North Dakota’s Bismarck School District, the mother took to social media to start a campaign against the district that led to threatening and aggressive actions against the school district. Even worse were the accusations made on social media of bullying brought against innocent students. These students had to overcome the threatening and false allegations.

Despite the district’s ongoing efforts to provide students, parents and staff with education, support and resources to address the growing problem, this one incident marginalized the extensive progress and devoted work of district staff.

The Bismarck School District displayed a deep understanding of the issues that led to the student’s death and kept their focus on their anti-bullying efforts and support of students. We all have something to learn from the stories that are shared, and we all pray it never happens on our call.


Letters should be addressed to: Editor, School Administrator, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. E-mail: