To the editor:
Reportedly, Donna Whiteman, KASB attorney, told the Leavenworth School Board members some fallacies regarding the requirement for having administrators live within Leavenworth.
First, Whiteman claimed that limiting residency requirements would make hiring the most qualified person difficult. Apparently, Whiteman has not considered that NOT having such a requirement is actually the cause of not being able to hire the most qualified applicant. Instead of conducting a true national search for the best qualified administrators, the Leavenworth School District has repeatedly proven it prefers to hire primarily within the immediate Kansas City area, which removes the ability for the board to genuinely hire the most qualified applicant.
Second, while administrators hired and required to move into the district could potentially ask for more money, the school district has already proven, with the most recent high school principal hiring, that they are willing to pay out such expenses, since the board had to pay approximately $10,000 in penalties for hiring the new principal, who had already retired. We have to ask what the difference is in paying THE most qualified candidate to move here?
Whiteman’s third point applies to the first, since she argued that many educators marry other educators, so often live outside of the district they actually teach in. While this situation is most certainly accurate, it does not prevent the district from requiring the top- level administrators to move to Leavenworth, since a truly national search could mean that the most qualified candidate comes from thousands of miles away – most candidates would expect to move their spouses with them. Most businesses would expect such a physically demonstrated commitment from an employee earning $100,000 or more a year. Why shouldn’t we?
What the board and Leavenworth residents need to consider is how much influence we want from sources outside our community. Just as we would not allow a city commissioner to live outside the city and still presume to “represent” our best interests, we should recognize that the highly paid and influential administrators, namely the superintendents, in our school district, which manages more personnel and a greater budget than our city commission, should also be required to live in the city in order to oversee our children’s educations, which, after all, is the foundation of our city’s future.
The question becomes one of independent determination. Are we willing to allow superintendents to continue living elsewhere, demonstrating their unwillingness to join our community wholeheartedly, thus allowing other issues, other factors in other communities, even, to influence vital decisions for the education of Leavenworth’s children and for the future of Leavenworth itself?