Public hears from ‘pro tem’ candidates

By William Duffield bduffield@civitasmedia.com

February 4, 2014

XENIA — A pair of candidates to take over as Xenia Community Schools’ superintendent pro tem were scheduled to present their reasons why they want to join the district and how they can take Xenia Schools forward during a special gathering Monday at the board office. But only one candidate showed up.

The 5:30 p.m. gathering was advertised by the district as a chance for the community to hear from and meet Dale Dickson and Denny Morrison, as well as offer written feedback to the board of education members about the candidates. But it was just Morrison who was there to take questions. Dickson had decided to pull his name from consideration, according to Board President Cheryl Marcus.

After the presentation by Morrison, and an executive session, no announcement was made by the board.

“How can I move the district forward?” Morrison asked. “I believe in what I call the Four Cs.”

“The first is Communication. I believe things in a school district must be publicized. We need to use social media, the local newspaper, and any method to get information out there. We need to be transparent.”

“Next, is curriculum. I make sure our students come first. I want the children to go home every day and tell their family over dinner something they did at school that they are excited about.”

“We also have to know that each child learns differently. Some need oral lessons, some written, some need to build something. It’s learning what teachers have to do to that is important.”

Morrison said his third ‘C’ is Community.

“We want people to be involved,” he said. “Teachers can’t be alone in their efforts. Parents must be involved in their child’s education.”

Morrison said he would also do outreach in the community.

“I’ll go see anyone (organizations) that will let me in their door,” he said. “I know people will help if they are asked. We need to build a relationship with the community.”

His fourth C, Morrison said, is Finance. “I know, but it could be ‘cash’ or ‘currency’,” he said. “Finance plays a major role in a school district.

“I ask ‘is this something good for the students,’” he continued. “Then it’s Can we afford it.”

Morrison said that he has served as a superintendent for 11 years and has never had a district spend beyond its means.

“I’m all about providing the best education possible and for the tax payers to get the best bang for their buck.”

Morrison said he is passionate about students with the ability to challenge the best and brightest and take those “Middle of the Road” students to as high a level as possible.

Confusion has been expressed by some members of the community as the district originally expected to put an interim superintendent in place. The district cannot have an interim superintendent when a superintendent is already employed. The district’s separation agreement with current superintendent Dr. Deborah Piotrowski keeps her in that position until July 31. Therefore, the district must employ a superintendent pro tem until that date.

Morrison is the former superintendent of Beavercreek Schools from 2002-2009. After retiring from that position, he went to work at Fairborn City Schools as that district’s director of curriculum and instruction. He then returned to Beavercreek as principal of Ankeney Middle School for the 2012-2013 year.

During a special meeting held Thursday, Jan. 30, the Board of Education approved the adoption of the use of “blizzard bags” as an alternate plan for “calamity days” missed by the district. According to board member Arch Grieve, this alternative plan cannot be used for days already missed prior to the approval. The plan will now go to the Xenia Education Association for approval before being sent to the Ohio Department of Education.

Xenia Community Schools have missed nine days as of Monday, Feb. 3.

William Duffield can be reached at 937-372-4444 ext. 133 or on Twitter @WilliamDuffield