Letter: Change needed to save Niles schoolsPublished 8:53am Thursday, March 28, 2013
To the editor:
At the heart of every great community is a great school system. We in the Niles community have truly been blessed with a great school system. A great school system consists of many employees working well together under a good leader “building a foundation for the future.” Up until about three years ago the leadership of Niles Community Schools was superb. Test scores were above average, the morale in the schools was exemplary, individual schools were working together and employees were given the feeling of appreciation.
Unfortunately, over the past three years the school system has gone from bad to worse. The test scores have fallen for three straight years. Effective administrators have been pushed out of their current positions, only to be replaced by other administrators with a less than successful track record and no communication skills. Some administrators have also chosen to leave, the superintendent would have you think, due to personal or family issues. How many schools or businesses lose seven administrators in three years and have test scores or profits decline for three straight years and keep the superintendent or CEO. Morale in the buildings, unless you are in New Tech, is at an all-time low. Staff members, students and community members are unhappy with the administration moves and the effect it has had in the school system. The high school is now a divided institution. It now has a wing called Niles New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy and also the traditional high school. When you hear about the two different “wings” from the current superintendent, New Tech is the obvious choice, leaving the traditional high school as a bad second place. I truly think the traditional high school is being set up for failure to make New Tech and Supt. Richard Weigel look like heroes. What student or staff member wants to study or work in a second place system? Talk about bad morale.
I, along with most of the staff members of the school system (that are still there), students and community members, believe that it is time for our elected school board members to step up. My cry out is to the school board, students and community — I can’t do this alone. How much farther are we going to let the school system fall until we step up? School board members, please open you eyes to the truths going on all around you. Weigel claims the changes are for the good of the students and school system. Have the test scores and morale shown us that, or are these changes for the good of Richard Weigel? How many members of the staff need to leave without the board members taking a closer look into the real reasons why? How much farther do test scores need to fall? How many more excellent administrators need to leave? How many more traditional high school students and staff members need to feel as though they are “second class?” Look at the last three years, the only common denominator in this destruction is the new superintendent, Richard Weigel. It is not a building problem, it is a district problem. We can start to fix this if mistakes can be admitted — we all make them. Board members, don’t be afraid to admit you have chosen the wrong person to lead Niles Community Schools down the correct path. People will have more respect for you if you can admit a mistake than if you are afraid to admit it and let it fester. Parents, community members, students and staff, step up for what you believe in and want for your students, children, grandchildren and friends. Let the school board members know the truth of what goes on. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only that ever has.” You can be part of that group that changes our world by starting with our school. Let us go from victims to victorious. Let us know what you think.
Editors note: The percent of Niles students passing the fall 2012 MEAP test increased in 11 of 18 categories when compared with the test from the previous year.