Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dorathy’s communication abilities are already of note

July 13, 2006

Paul Dorathy was singing sweet music during an introductory meeting we had Tuesday morning. The new superintendent of the Baldwin School District promises there will be communication ... and plenty of it.

I was so happy to hear that. It's been one of the major problems with the school district over the years and that's not just in James White's tenure as superintendent, but John Nuspl before him.

Dorathy and I discussed many items involving education in general and the Baldwin district in particular in the hour and a half chat we had in my office. But, it was the communication factor that jumped out in my mind.

And, he brought it up.

He promises to be open and honest about everything that goes on in the district, both good and bad. That's something we haven't had in the past and there are plenty of people who will attest to that, not just me. In fact, the need for better communication was something the school board repeatedly asked for.

I'm thinking with Dorathy's stance on openness, that's something that caught the board's eye through the numerous interviews and other sessions they had with candidates for the superintendent's position. I know it sure got my attention.

I've said before and I'll say it again, I don't necessarily like it when the Signal has to print stories about problems at Baldwin High School or elsewhere in the district. But, they have to be reported.

Dorathy said the same thing Tuesday. Again, it was sweet music to our ears.

We'd all like to think we live in "perfect Baldwin City" where nothing goes wrong, especially with our youth. That's simply not the truth and we need to know about what's going wrong as parents, patrons and taxpayers.

Dorathy and I also discussed another communication item. That's keeping school board members and others informed about what's going on, even if it's not good news and not for public broadcast. I brought that one up. I told him I don't like surprises. I'd rather hear it from him if something is going wrong, even if it's not for print right away. It's called "off the record" and is vital in communication. I've been blessed to have those types of relationships in the past and wanted to build that bridge with him right away.

Because I've been in this business going on three decades, I know that those relationships take trust. They don't happen immediately, but we've got a common friend that should help speed that along.

I've known Bob Bezek, an Ottawa attorney, since I worked the police and court beats there starting in 1988. Over the years, we've been through quite a lot. He was the city attorney for Baldwin during the infamous police investigation/lawsuit fiasco dating back to 2000. Over the years, we've had countless off the record discussions.

Tuesday I encouraged Dorathy to talk to Bezek about it. They've known each other for years. In fact, it was a call from Bezek during the superintendent search that put me on Dorathy's side from the beginning. I couldn't figure why Bezek would be interested in the search, other than he lives here and has children in the schools. Then he told me he'd worked with Dorathy for years and he was a good man. If he's good enough for Bezek, he's good enough for me is what I thought at the time.

Oddly enough, it was a change in the board stance at Monday night's meeting involving them both that really has me excited about the changes in store. Bezek was hired as the board's attorney. As long as I've been here, the board has not had an attorney. I always found that odd. No other school district I'd ever been associated with didn't have an attorney. The Baldwin district had relied on the services of the Kansas Association of School Board for legal matters.

While in theory, that's OK and we certainly haven't suffered for it -- that I know of -- it just makes more sense to have your own attorney. Given that Bezek has worked for school districts for decades, it was a no-brainer, especially since he's also a district patron.

No, I'm convinced that we're heading in the right direction. Obviously, it's way early in the Dorathy tenure. He hasn't been here long, but loves the community. So far, he likes what he's seen within the district, but has a lot more catching up to do. And, no, there haven't been any problems.

"Right now, I'm in the honeymoon period," Dorathy said Tuesday.

Let's hope it's a very long honeymoon.

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