Friday, February 13, 2009

Have you ever held a stake? Have you ever been invited? If you say yes, you can help plan the high school

Please click on images to Enlarge views of Fayetteville High School campus from the south.

Why can't school-administrators speak reasonably standard, clear, simple English?
If they want to pass a millage to support the project later this year, they need to simply say that EVERYONE is invited to a meeting to discuss the "exterior design of the building." Sounding as though someone might be turned away from one of these meetings will doom the millage, which doesn't have much of a chance with the economy failing anyway.
Rose Ann Pearce, an experienced reporter, is quoting a lot of the school system's news release to reveal things that only an editorial writer gets to comment on.
One tip that the reporter is wise to the tricks of school officials is her having pointed out that the information came in a late-afternoon news release. The late-Friday news release is a trick of people hoping to hide the information until Tuesday or at least to Sunday. There isn't much chance of getting direct quotes from officials or from "stakeholders" late on Friday.
The late-Friday news release is known to reporters and editors as a sneaky, cowardly way of getting newspapers to "play down" bad news. In this case, of course, they may imagine that the announcement of a charette on "exterior design" of a building is somehow going to make up for the secret-interview process the school officials have set up to interview candidates to replace bobbynu as superintendent. A superintendent who is well educated and wants students to be well educated can make a difference. One that is concerned about salary or ambitious to rise in the profession isn't likely to care about real results.
Apparently, not even "invited stakeholders" get a chance to see the candidates in action before the board. That is the important thing, picking a new superintendent.
Fayetteville's record of producing competent graduates suggests that the selection of teachers has gone extremely well in past decades. Fayetteville's secretive interview process for selecting the next superintendent suggests that some members of the board and administration don't plan to do any better in selecting a superintendent than in the recent past.
Was a single faculty member now working in the Fayetteville schools even considered as a potential superintendent? Is that a way to tell (no offense to our firefighters, EMTs and police officers) Fayetteville's finest to understand that no matter how wonderfully they teach they can not expect to become top administrators in the district?
Are they to learn from this that being a leader by example is a wasted effort?
At this point, I must disclose that at the age of 23 I completed a master's degree with a major in English and simultaneiously completed a program that earned me a certification to become a principal or superintendent of schools. I would have had to teach in a secondary school, grades 7-12, for three years before being able to use that certification in applying to be a top administrator; but, because I was immediately offered a position as instructor in English by a college in another state, I never put myself in position to apply for an administrative job.
Had I not been offered that job, I likely would have served my secondary-teaching years and possibly, after a decade or so, considered myself actually qualified to serve as an administrator. My many semester hours beyond my master's degree were in English courses geared to earning a Ph.D. And I have taught English in seven colleges and universities over the years but spent more years as a journalist, 25 or more as an outdoor writer and 15 or so as a copy editor.
With all that behind me, the time came and passed that I thought I knew enough about either teaching or about writing and editing to be become a college president or a school superintendent or the editor of a newspaper.
The reason is that there is much to know and it isn't all academic knowledge. But a superintendent needs to know a bit about management and lot about the many academic disciplines and even more about the community in which he is hired to make significant decisions.
The school board's "national search" for a superintendent and its charette to talk about the outside design of a building are equally superficial processes.
There are many teachers in the Fayetteville School System who know the community, know generations of Fayetteville graduates and respect both and could be much better in the position of Fayetteville school superintendent than anyone who has his or her name on some list that would qualify to be found by a professional head-hunting company and brought forth as candidates. A person truly qualified to oversee the school system would probably be too modest to ask for the job! And certainly would not go through a head-hunting agency to seek consideration. The process and priorities are flawed from the start. Find the best teacher in the district and promote that teacher!
We elected one good new member to the school board in 2008. How about just doing without a superintendent until we can elect more competent board members and select a really qualified candidate? As long as we have good teachers and principals and some good clerks and secretaries in the school offices, the superintendent-selection process can wait until we have a board that will conduct public business in public. Making a bad choice isn't an option we can afford.

Please visit The Morning News at the following online address
or read on below.

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Charette Process For High School Design Begins Next Week.

By Rose Ann Pearce
FAYETTEVILLE -- The first phase of a design charette to develop the future design of Fayetteville High School begins Wednesday for invited stakeholders.

The idea of a charette is for a participatory design process built around community engagement and building a design consensus dealing with the exterior design of the building.

School officials, including board members and top administrators, have agreed the community needs to participate and agree on design elements of the new school.

The district plans to build a new high school for 3,000 students, including ninth-graders, on the 40-acre site. A higher millage to cover construction costs is likely to be sought later this year.

According to a late afternoon news release from the school district, civic groups and other key communicators in the community are asked to give their input in the design of the high school during sessions. The groups will meet at the Judy Mercy Center in the Bates Annex to Fayetteville High School. The times are 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.

The charette schedule through the end of February also is listed on the district's Web site.

On Thursday, ninth-grade teachers, high school and junior high teachers, and high school department heads will meet the planners at various times during the day.

Two public meetings are also planned -- a "visioning" meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25, and a Community Congress from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 26. Both meetings are at the Judy Mackey Center.

The final meeting, or Community Congress, participants will prioritize site options and scenarios.

Discussion will be limited to design elements of the building. The architects will use the information gathered through the charette to develop final drawings.

The charette, similar to one used by the city of Fayetteville in the development of the 2025 plan, will be facilitated by Concordia Group of New Orleans, according to the news release. The planning firm has been a key participant in the rebuilding of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.


Web Watch

Fayetteville School District Design Charette


beth said...

This IS dismaying, Aubrey. Not being an invited stakeholder, I do have opinions about the exterior design of the building. They include the view that neither metal nor cinder block should be used as a primary facade material. This would be breaking from the trends employed in the last several school built in the district.
I would also caution against the gimmicky use of tilework at the entrance which has been the recent fad.
I would challenge the district decision makers to find significant numbers of individuals who prefer the exterior design of Owl Creek with that of Jefferson and Washington.
Thanks for catching this.

Anonymous said...

It's not just about looks. Washington and Jefferson are old buildings but likely will outlast Owl Creek if maintenance is continued.