Over the past years, the Lake Placid school district has seen many changes, some not very positive, and the impact has been staggering.
Many parents, teachers, staff and community members, including me, were extremely vocal in the past as the district struggled with what sometimes seemed to be insurmountable challenges. Now is the time to take a look forward and acknowledge the positive efforts and accomplishments that have occurred this past year.
Due to the fortitude of many, we are now embarking on a new journey which I fully believe will grow and strengthen our schools to deliver an even a higher quality education to our students than ever before. We are all painfully aware of the instability we have faced with lack of strong district leadership and consistency at the administration level. This led many in the community to take a stand and publically drive for positive change which ultimately got us to where we are now positioned with a responsible, accountable and committed school board, a highly respected new superintendent, Dr. Roger Catania, starting May 25th and two new highly qualified principals, Dana Wood and Theresa Lindsay starting July 1 at the high school and middle school. I am confident that the selection process for a new elementary principal will also result in adding another high caliber administrator to the team.
The impact of community members coming together to invoke positive change is clearly evidenced through the change at the board of education level with four new board members, Mary Dietrich, Patti Gallagher, John Hopkinson and Martha Stahl, who collaborated with the existing board members, Phil Baumbach, Janet Smith and Herb Stoerr, to achieve a great deal amidst the challenges. This board has had to deal with so many high priorities and many board members spent countless hours, above and beyond what should be required, to address these priorities. They quickly and decisively hired a new superintendent, hired interim principals for the high school and middle school, developed a solid budget in a short period of time, established a Budget Focus Advisory Group, implemented an all-inclusive stakeholder interview process to assist in the hiring of new principals, reviewed and approved many policies in need of updates, developed a building maintenance plan and addressed the requirements that the district faced due to being identified as a Focus District. There are many other issues that the board addressed that are too numerous to mention. Many boards are never in a position to have to address so many critical issues at the same time. This board has accomplished so much in one year, and they are to be commended. The success of this board is directly related to the commitment and direction of board President Mary Dietrich.
Many parents, faculty, staff, students and community members actively participated in the Budget Focus Advisory Group and the principal interview process. This clearly demonstrates that regardless of what happened in the past, this community is willing to work together to better the educational system for all students. Although there is always opportunity for process improvement, the important fact is that there is a much more open and inclusive environment allowing all stakeholders to participate and be heard.
I would also like to congratulate the senior class of 2013. This class has experienced the brunt of the instability, yet they persevered as evident in the great caliber of senior projects underway and the future plans of many students.
We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to be in a position which will lead to only the best for our children if we all partner together and look forward to the future.
Linda Wallace lives in Lake Placid.