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Open Letter to the Ketchikan School Board
By Debra Azure


March 28, 2007

Dear Members of the School Board,

I am writing to you to ask you to seriously question the wisdom of firing Harry Martin as School Superintendent. Not only is Mr. Martin an extremely qualified administrator, as verified by his being named Superintendent of the Year in the State of Alaska last year, but he has the respect and admiration of those in the State of Alaska who have the ability to assist us through the Schoenbar money crunch and other issues. If we fire Mr. Martin at this point we will lose the respect of those in the State whose assistance we desperately need. I believe the Borough has made it very clear that, if we are so careless with the money they have provided as to fire our Superintendent mid-year or mid-contract right after spending unnecessary money to keep the District offices in the Mall, the purse will be tightened up, and rightfully so. Therefore, let's not talk of firing without discussing what programs or teaching positions will be cut in order to pay for buying out Mr. Martin's contract, including his annual leave days, hiring an interim Superintendent, searching for a new one AND the loss in Borough funding next year.

In the School Board elections held prior to these last ones Mr., Martin was made an issue with certain candidates stating they would fire him and others stating they would keep him. The voting public left absolutely no doubt as to how they felt with a very strong majority electing those in favor of Martin and ousting those against him. In these last elections the issue was kept under wraps and was not a public issue although we see it coming out again now. Each of you was elected to serve the public, not to pursue an individual agenda. You need to take the time and make the effort to work through your personal differences and do what is in the best interest of the community.

Mr. Martin's job is to enforce the goals and policies set in place by the Board as a whole. Any personal agenda must go through the process of being approved by the entire Board before you can expect Mr. Martin to enforce it. If you cannot get the entire of the Board to agree with you, then you must set aside your personal agenda and get behind the Board's agenda. You must also refuse to support those who refuse to follow this procedure.

I have read and re-read the Ketchikan Daily News' account of the March 14th School Board Meeting and I notice there was no comment about Mr. Martin not making progress on or meeting his goals. When Mr. Martin asked about "other issues" he was confronted with gossip and innuendo regarding "somebody said" which cannot be defended because it is gossip and innuendo. As to Mr. Martin's leadership abilities, how is it that the entire State can recognize these qualities in him but our own Board questions it?

In reply to comments regarding the amount of information in the packets, as I'm sure many of you have noticed, it's very clear that at least one board member does not read the packet anyway. All joking aside, if you're not getting the information you want, ask for it, but then be sure to read every bit of it. You are also allowed to do your own homework. If you don't want to ask the questions in public then you probably don't want that info in the packet either where other people have access to it.

I have to say, "Kudos to Mr. Thomas," for his comments at the last meeting. There is way too much micro-managing going on, whether intentional or not, and it is not a healthy situation. It is in noone's best interest to encourage this type of behavior.

Please, for the sake of our community, make an earnest attempt to work with Mr. Martin. Do not vote in favor of firing our School Superintendent.

Thank you for your consideration,

Debbie Azure
Ketchikan, AK

Received March 27, 2007 - Published March 28, 2007

About: "34 yr Ktn resident "





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