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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 2, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A — Herald-Zeitung — Sunday, November 2, 2003 Our Opinion CISD shouldn’t have jumped gun Four years is a buy tittie for a contract when the district is still writing checks to pay for its last personnel conundrum. T! he Comal Independent School District signed a contract with Nancy I nlier Friday, securing her as superintendent of schools through June 2007. Thats a long time for a district recovering from a controversial personnel decision in embattled outgoing superintendent James Grunert. Grunert chose to retire after questions were raised about district financing of artificial turf at two high school football stadiums. The district had to buy out Grunert s contract for $60,000, a hefty sum for most taxpayers in an economy where finding a job is still difficult. Shouldn’t trustees have been a little gun shy after that debacle? The pragmatic answer is yes. Fuller’s qualifications appear to be top notch, and she might very well he the leadership the district has been seeking. But prudence could have gone a long way in helping restore public confidence in the board’s ability to manage $73 million of taxpayer money every year. Even if Fuller was the poster child of school management, CISD trustees should have proven they had asked all the right questions. Instead, some of them criticized trustee Hose Cervins uncertainty about I tiller. Cervin was the only dissenting vote in the board’s decision. Regardless of the motives behind Cervin’s vote, a healthy dose of skepticism isn’t a bad thing. CISD trustees needed to get this decision right. Only time — four years — will tell if they did. Today in History By the Associated Press Today is Sunday, Nov. 2, the 306th day of2003. There are 59 days left in the year. Today’s I lighlight in I listory: On Nov. 2, 1976, former Georgia Gov. jimmy Carter became the first candidate from the Deep South since the Civil War to be elected president. I Ie defeated incumbent Gerald R. Ford. On this date: In 1783, Gen. Cieorge Washington issued his "Farewell Address to the Army" near Princeton, NT. In 1795, the I Itll president of the United States, James Knox Polk, was born in Mecklenburg County, N.C. In 1865, the 29th president of the United States, Warren (Gamaliel I larding, was born near Corsica, Ohio. In 1889, North Dakota and South Dakota, respectively, became the 39th and 40th states. In 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour expressed support for a "national home” for the Jews of Palestine in what came to he known as “T he Balfour Declaration.” In 1930,1 lade Selassie was crowned emperor of Ethiopia. * In 1947,1 Inward I lughes piloted his huge wooden airplane, known as the “Spruce Goose,” on its only Hight, which lasted about a minute over Long Beach I larbor in California. In 1948, President Truman surprised the experts by being re-elected in a narrow upset over Republican challenger T homas E. Dewey. In 1963, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dihn Diem was assassinated iii a military coup. Herald-Zeitung Serving Ne iv Braunfels arui Comal County since 1852. New Braunfels Zeitung wail founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957and printed in both German and English until 1958 Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland News Editor Brady Craal Features Editor Brian Grant Editor and Publisher Doug Tonay Circulation Director Craig Pauling Advertising Director Courtnay Abernathy Business Manager Haathar Grant Williams is reconstructing academics, so expect a little disciplinary‘dust’ know the high standards faced and demands to be met. So do their booster parents. Does NBHS expect or demand championship performances of students academically? It was the firm conviction of the Selection Committee that Williams and his exceptional teaching and administrative staff at the high school would! Recently, NBISD beautifully reconstructed our high school. As principal, Mike Fitsko devoted himself unfailingly and tirelessly to overseeing that monumental task. Yet no educator could possibly juggle the difficult and often conflicting demands of being both a campus academic leader and a full-time construction manager! During the physical reconstruction at NBHS there was lots of noise and dust. Why would anyone expect it to be different during the academic reconstruction? So, expect some academic “noise” and disciplinary “dust” at the high school for a while. Mike Fitsko was patiently supported during the physical rebuilding. Rickey Williams and his devoted staff deserve nothing less during the vital academic rebuilding! Limits POLICY ■ Letters must be 250 words or fewer. ■ The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. ■ Guest columns should be less than 500 words and must be accompanied by a photo. ■ Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Mail latter* to:    Fax them to: Letters to Editor    (830) 606-3413 tfo Herald-Zeitung    «„,|| «h«n to: P.O. Drawer 311328    news@herald- New Braunfels,    zeituna com TX 78131-1328 PRESIDENT ■ George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 8023 Vantage Drive, Suite 460 San Antonio 78230 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate Courtyard 5 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) AUSTIN OFFICE: 221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Telephone: (512) 469-6034 Fax: (512) 469-6020 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 224-7485 Fax: (210) 224-8569 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2231 Washington. D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 NOW TO CONTACT Texas Government iiiiiiiiiiiiini , GOVERNOR ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Carter Casteel 254 E Mill St. New Braunfels 78130 Telephone: (830) 627-0215 Toll Free: (866) 687-4961 Fax: (830) 627-8895 WHILE IN AUSTIN: PO. Box 2910 Austin 78768-2190 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512) 473-9920 E-mail address: [email protected] STATE RENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: (512) 463-0125 Fax: (512) 463-7794 E-mail address: [email protected], ■ Judith Zaffirini P.O. Box 627 Laredo 78042-0627 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 12702 Toepperwein Road *214 San Antonio 78233 Telephone: (210) 657-0095 Fax: (210) 657-0262 As a member of the committee that recommended Rickey Williams to be principal at New Braunfels High School, I know it was not easy for him to emerge at the top of a large talent pool of very capable educators from several states. Now there’s turmoil during his transition. Not surprising; disappointing, though. My wife and I have had two sons graduate from NBHS. Frankly, we’re thinking NBHS. students need to be protected from their parents, not their principal. I, too, have an attitude about Mr. Williams — and a regret. I regret our sons can’t restart their studies at NBHS after he’s been there a few years! NBI IS consistently produces exciting sports victories. UIL “Sweepstakes” by the band are almost legendary. But do you think of the high school as an academic powerhouse? I wonder... Would the same parents and students who complain that the school now is becoming “a penitentiary ” tolerate rough academic "two-a-days” or no-holds-barred academic drills like the band endures? likely they’d whine about the horrible toughness and gross unfairness of it all. Students playing sports or marching in band DICKGRAY Dick dray. a local [tarent and businessman, has served several NBISD and other education-related committees in recent years.NBHS principal should ask for, and be given, another chance school was similar to those that led to the Columbine shootings in Colorado was a ridiculous statement. But rather than dispute that assertion, Williams just seemed to get mad. Williams seems to be his own worse enemy. I lis ability to salvage his leadership seems seriously threatened now because the issue has shifted swiftly from his policies to his behavior. So let’s first consider what Williams walked into: 1) He follows a populist type of principal who had been a sixth-grade principal to many of the high school students. Mike Fitsko knew hundreds of students on a first-name basis. Fitsko’s management style could be described as relaxed. Not many people, if any, would describe William’s style as relaxed. That’s not a criticism. Just pointing out the contrast. 2) Fitsko oversaw a student body dealing with building renovation and daily disruptions. I Ie kept the situation loose and spent much of his time trying to mitigate the disruptive impact of the construction. 3) Williams was brought here to enforce existing policies and add some of his own after Fitsko’s retirement. Williams explained to parents that he was responding to what many teachers had sought, which was, in effect, a restoring of order. But Williams, from possibly the first day of school, alienated many students and teachers with his strong-handed, didactic approach. Students were coming home with a litany of complaints about the new principal, especially in the first weeks of school. And then there were apparently at least a few teachers that complained about Williams to their students. Students are told to respect and believe what their teachers tell them. So when teachers take advantage of that position of authority to influence students and parents, it should be viewed as unprofessional and unethical behavior. So when you mix disgruntled students with sympathetic teachers, then add the impact of many concerned parents and more than just a few overzealous parents, you have a formidable momentum of discontent that quickly becomes emotion-based rather than fact-based. The other highly emotional element in this situation seems to be Williams himself. Williams, rather than building alliances of support for his vision, seems to go out of his way to alienate students and parents, lashing out at his perceived critics and falling on his sword over insignificant issues that are not worth fighting over. The principal, and those teachers, students and parents who have become involved in this mess need to remember that often it’s not what you say, but how you say it that creates the problem. This entire affair is becoming embarrassing. None of the sides in this mess is without blame. Williams deserves another opportunity. The teachers, parents and students involved and principal Williams all need to change their tactics. They need to show that well-meaning people can disagree and remain respectful and civil. That’s an important lesson for all of us. The first step is for Williams, the students, the teachers and the parents to just treat each other with the same respect they expect. Without mutual respect, all attempts to defuse this impasse will fail. Williams needs to ask) for a second chance and he needs to be given that opportunity. Our children’s education is too important to do less. MOUW TD COMYACT mmWFWw MWW WPWFIRp United States Government What do you get when you cross a bunch of apprehensive parents, a principal, disgruntled students and teachers? Answer: In the case of New Braunfels I Ugh School — a big mess. New Braunfels I Ugh School’s first-year Principal Rickey Williams cannot seem to get a break. Some say he’s only getting what he deserves. Others say he’s not been given a fair chance. Both comments seem to be correct. Williams conducted a series of meetings for high school parents this past week. IfWilliams’ goal was to defuse criticisms of his management style and any misunderstanding, then Williams rates D0UGTONSY    about a D-plusin the meeting that this Dong boney is editor and /nib- columnist attended. Usher of the Herald Zeitung    But    a    couple of the parents at that same meeting deserved at least a D-minus — if not a lower grade — because of how quickly they stooped to insults and attacks. To say, as one parent asserted, that the tension at the high ;