Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Hamburg Schools Superintendent talks about expectations

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  • HAMBURG – The new Hamburg Superintendent spent some time introducing himself to the Hamburg School Board at a workshop on July 16, letting them know some of the things he would be expecting from them and what they could expect from him.
    Superintendent Terry Kenealy said that many of the expectations he was discussing were standards set forth by the Iowa Association of School Boards, but they were worth going over again.
    He praised the board members for taking on an often thankless job and acknowledged that they make important, “high stakes” decisions, saying that it was his job to help clarify issues and make recommendations based on available choices and possible ramifications.
    Kenealy said that it was important to not only set goals but that they be measurable and regularly measured, quoting a mentor of his that said, “what gets measured gets done.”
    Of his expectations of the board, Kenealy told them to “do your homework, be punctual, and come prepared to discuss and act.”
    He advised them, “don’t spring surprises on me at board meetings, and I won’t do it to you, either. Be respectful of each other. You aren’t all going to necessarily like each other or agree with the others’ viewpoints, but you need to put that aside.”
    He reminded the board that they act much like the governing body of a corporation and need to act within the board, not as individuals. He also pointed out that they wanted to be an ethical governing team, saying that, “if the people in charge aren’t respected as ethical and walking the walk or talk, people won’t listen. People judge you on your body of work.”
    Kenealy asked the board for any thoughts they had regarding what he had said so far, and when they had few comments to make, moved on to discussion of the public meeting the board had been invited to by the Farragut School Board.
    Board President Dave Mincer explained that he had attended the Farragut School Board meeting held on July 14, and that board had decided to hold a public meeting for the communities of both districts and invited the Hamburg board to join in presenting that meeting. Mincer told the Farragut board that he would pass the invitation on to the Hamburg board but made no promises as to whether they would or could attend.
    Kenealy told the board that he knew community meetings could be intimidating, especially when emotions were high about the subject matter, but that the issue is out there and has to be addressed sooner or later, and said his personal recommendation was that they have Hamburg representation at the meeting. He further offered to attend the meeting as that representative if the board members did not wish to attend.
    Page 2 of 2 - Board member Reva Benefiel expressed concerns that the Hamburg board owed it to their constituents to have a meeting in Hamburg for the Hamburg community prior to a joint meeting. She said, “it’s a turf war ultimately; it’s set up to be anyway,” about the decision of the Farragut board to hold a public meeting.
    Board member Susan Harris also had some concerns about a joint meeting, and the fact that it would be held in Riverton. “I would worry that there are people who won’t travel to that meeting,” she said. She went on to say that, “social media has created a perception that there is going to be a joint community meeting. It feels like we’re set up if we don’t agree to come to the Riverton meeting.”
    Board member Steve Stenzel said that he didn’t see it as an “OR” issue. “We’re going to need to have multiple meetings, anyway; we need to get accurate information out there,” he said.
    Kenealy agreed that multiple meetings would need to be held, but also said that it was the board’s decision. Harris, agreeing that the two boards needed to be passing out accurate information, asked when they would be putting that information together. Kenealy advised that he and the Farragut superintendent, Tom Hinrichs, needed to get together and work on that for the boards.
    He did have some budget figures that he had passed out to the board, including a rough draft of what the budget and taxes might look like if the two schools combined. He cautioned that the combined numbers were best guess in places, but said that it gave the board a starting point and something to review, consider, and talk about.
    The board discussed the possibility of holding a Hamburg community meeting either instead of or in addition to the meeting to be held in Riverton on July 22, and talked about possible dates. Keeping in mind the August 1 deadline to get signatures on the petition for the matter to make it to the December ballot, the group said that if they could hold a community meeting on July 28 or 29, that would still leave people time to sign the petition if they wanted to before August 1.
    As this was a workshop rather than a regular meeting, no decision was made on attending the meeting in Riverton or on holding a separate Hamburg community meeting, and the board made plans to discuss the matter further in its regular monthly meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m., Monday, July 21, and make a decision on that date.
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