By Clark Palmer
The tragic loss of the Antigo School District’s Administrator to another school district is a setback for all our public school students. Mr. Misfeldt’s youth, enthusiasm, and plans for the District’s future had the potential to heal and sustain this District for the next three or four decades; now, that’s gone, and we are left here with an entrenched, under-qualified, and overpaid administrative team, a below-average-quality staff of educators, taxpayer dissension bordering on outright revolt, and a leaderless Board of Education that arrogantly ignores the educational needs of the District’s students as well as the social and economic needs of the communities it serves.
Presently our Board has two “lame duck” members; another member sends the family’s young children to a local private school. This Board seems more concerned about centralization and infrastructure than the supplying of a decent education to the 2,000+ students in the system; we are ranked academically as #324 of 428 school districts in Wisconsin—the State Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has given a “failing” grade to one of our City elementary schools, and our High School’s “report card” is 0.6 points from “failing”, according to DPI. Perhaps the Board’s disinterest in education-based issues made it easier for Mr. Misfeldt to resign. Larger class sizes are the wrong answer; encouraging so-called “collaboration” has often shown little or no educational improvements elsewhere. More busing is counter-productive.
Our incompetent Board’s next task is to seek a new District Administrator; obviously we need “outside help”, so promotion from within shouldn’t be an option. As voters, we can improve the process by wisely selecting new representatives to the School Board this April who realize the District’s plight.
In my opinion, our next District Administrator must be prepared to do all of the following: 1) Recognize the importance of rural elementary education, the advantages of neighborhood elementary schools, and understand the need to recruit highly-qualified and experienced elementary educators. 2) Revise and reform the District’s Administrative structure, bringing in new, experienced, loyal employees to such key positions as Finance Director, Curriculum Director, Information Systems, and probably new secondary-school principals and such others as are necessary for new leadership and academic success in our beleaguered District. This might take some time; another veteran “interim” administrator could be a smart choice.
Meanwhile, I would advise parents with children under age 11 to consider the excellent training supplied by our local private schools, with or without the aid of financial vouchers available from the state.
Goodbye, Mr. Misfeldt; we already feel the loss and we fear for the future.
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