Guest Opinion: School district needs new leadership |

Guest Opinion: School district needs new leadership

James C. Lahrman
Winter Park

Many of you have heard that on Tuesday night I spoke before the East Grand School Board and advocated for a change in leadership. I feel it is necessary to follow up with a written statement so my intentions are not misinterpreted.

It is not my intention to be accusatory or at any time to question the leadership motives or personal agenda. Rather, my intention is to engage our community in a candid discussion of what I feel is the larger picture. Does our school district have the right people in place to help us succeed in these extremely challenging times?

I do not question their work ethic or level of commitment to solving the problems the district has been faced with over these last few difficult years. All the school board members are respected professionals.

Superintendent Karas has served this district for 30 years. As a middle school principal, she earned and received many accolades for her service. Ms. Karas took over the superintendent position when the bottom began to fall out economically and at a time when there was little or no input from the community regarding leadership.

While I realize no one likes receiving a negative performance review, if we are going to run this district like a business, as so many have advocated, then we have to identify our weaknesses.

In many large and small businesses alike, the buck stops and starts with the leadership and their respective boards. When companies succeed, praise and financial reward is bestowed on the leaders. When shareholders are unhappy with the return on their investment, many times a leadership change ensues. Presently, I am one unhappy shareholder. As a community leader, business owner, DAC volunteer, taxpayer and most importantly a father of four students in the EGSD, I personally feel that I am not receiving the quality of leadership that I so desperately want and frankly deserve.

I believe in leadership with vision. Leadership that has a well founded goal and a plan to get us there. I do not believe in reactionary leadership. I believe in leadership that possesses integrity and honesty. I believe in governance that is trustworthy and transparent. I believe in leadership that rules by instilling hope and confidence in its employees, not one that instills fear. I believe in leadership that works cooperatively with all as opposed to being callous and indifferent.

I feel that by changing our current leadership, we can achieve greater success. We can either follow our fears or be led by our passions. Many of you in attendance felt it necessary to stop during the meeting and express your thanks and let me know that you also felt the same way but were unable to express it publicity. You stated that you appreciated my candor and honesty and I thank you for that. Others let me know that they did not feel the same way and that I do not represent their views. I truly appreciate their honest as well.

My intention was not to speak for others but to express my own personal dissatisfaction with our current leadership and try to create a forum that will allow this community to evaluate the leadership of the EGSD.

As a community, I do not believe we should settle for mediocrity. As a father I refuse to settle for my children’s sake. Education has always been the tool in civilization to free people from oppression and poverty. We cannot afford opportunities to improve education to be ignored. If you see the same deficiencies I see, then it is as much your responsibility as it is mine to advocate for change.

To allow this opportunity, that has brought all the resources of this community together to improve education, to be squandered would be a terrible disservice to future generations.