First Superintendent Candidate Answers Public Questions, Some Disappointed in Event

by Dalton Main on June 7, 2011

The first superintendent candidate for Jefferson County Public Schools answered questions from the public tonight at Male High School.

Dr. Christine Johns-Haines is currently superintendent of Utica Community Schools in Michigan but says she is excited about the resources available in Louisville.  The questions ranged from bullying and busing to student assignment plans and discipline issues, but Johns-Haines maintained her case-by-case approach towards most issues.

“Let me say this up front, I don’t believe in just adopting programs, there is no silver bullet to fix the problems of schools.”

Johns-Haines emphasized the need to review each issue in depth and make decisions later and refrained from offering many proposals regarding specific issues.

At the forum, Johns-Haines was asked about her budget cutting habits, which she said shouldn’t carry over into Louisville because the funding processes here are different from Utica’s funding. However, she says she is equipped to make hard decisions.

“The hard decisions are having to make those budgetary decisions while trying to protect the academic programs in our schools for our children” says Johns-Haines “so that we don’t get caught with the state trying to take over our schools because they’re not adequately meeting yearly goals or they’re not performing.”

But Jefferson County Teacher’s Association Board Member, Jennifer Alexander, says she was disappointed in the turnout for the event.

Alexander says parents should be more concerned with who will run their children’s schools.  “I’m very disappointed in the public support of the community” says Alexander “and this is an embarrassment that no more than this number of people would come out to get information about the person who is going to be in charge of their school system”

Alexander says the questions brought about a wide variety of issues, but not necessarily a wide variety of answers. “I lost count of how many times she talked about performing…achievement… , what I hear is testing, testing, testing;” she says “and anyone who is truly in touch with what is best for kids and best for educators, knows it’s not more testing.”

Alexander was also disappointed in the candidate selection process, saying it seemed rushed.  She’s afraid these forums might only be a formality and that the school board may have already made their decision.

The second candidate, Dr. Donna Hargens, is chief academic officer of Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina.  She will appear at a public forum Tomorrow night (Wednesday) at Male High School at 6 pm.

(Photo by Chris McDaniel)

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