As I begin what I expect will be my final year on the Aberdeen School Board, I want to share a few thoughts with you. First, it has been, and continues to be, an honor to serve on the board. I believe it is an important position and I have tried to do my best for our students, patrons, and the school staff. Over the summer I have had the opportunity to observe many of our graduates as they have come to reunions or local events. I continue to be struck by how accomplished so many of them are. I have seen and met doctors, lawyers, scientists, accountants, farmers and many other very professionally accomplished individuals, I have seen parents raising fine families in the area all sharing a common bond, that of being products of the Aberdeen school system. We in Aberdeen have much to be proud of with respect to the quality of the individuals coming through our school system.
At the end of my term, I will have served 13 years on the board, beginning in 1985. Throughout that time, the most important factor in maintaining our educational system has been the unwavering support of our patrons. Over that time, you have been asked to support numerous override elections, as well as school construction and remodeling bonds. You have supported plant facility elections. While not every election succeeded, you always have done what has been necessary to support the school. You have supported PTSA, the Aberdeen Education Foundation and the fish booth. You have supported the booster club. You have supported our students in their fundraising activities. You have supported them in all their activities and recognized their accomplishments. In short, you understand that the school is the heart and soul of the community, and you have done everything asked of you to keep it alive and thriving. I doubt that there is any community in the state of Idaho that has a better record of support for its school system than the Aberdeen School District. Thank you.
Over the last few years we, along with all of the Idaho school districts, have had to endure some hard times. Our district was fortunate to have leaders who were able to set good priorities and make difficult decisions to maintain our fiscal health without compromising our academic mission. This was not an easy task and I want to thank those serving through this difficult time for the diligence. I know it was not easy, but from my perspective, their judgement and decisions have been a great benefit to our school district. Their actions ensured that our district was able to weather the financial storms of the last recession, and has allowed our financial condition to continue to improve. One immediate benefit of that condition is that our bond rating has just been raised. In the process of selling the bonds for the new high school bond, Superintendent Jane Ward met with Moody’s Investment Service, the bond rating agency, to review our bond rating. They reviewed a number of aspects of our district finances, and after that review, raised our rating to AAA. Our banker and Moody’s both acknowledged that this action was unusual for an Idaho school. Most suffer from lower ratings, some schools’ bonds are almost rated as junk bonds. This action is an independent verification of the financial health of the district. Again, this would not be the case without the unwavering support of our patrons.
This next year is going to be an exciting year. We are ready to begin construction of our high school project. There will be challenges along the way, especially associated with keeping the project costs under control. Keeping in mind what we could afford, our vision committee developed a plan that will meet our needs. There are no luxuries, but it will be a facility of which we can be proud. The process we used to get to this point is another example of the support of our patrons. Within the committee there were no factions. Everyone had ideas but all quickly realized the difference between wants and needs and were able to develop a proposal that meets our needs even though it might not be everything we desire.
There will continue to be challenges as we go into the future. We must maintain the facilities we have. We need to start thinking about how we will extend the life of the current elementary school. Our facilities and grounds are in excellent condition due to the efforts of our wonderful maintenance and custodial staff.
Our teachers, aides, and administrative staff are also of the highest quality. We must continue our efforts to attract qualified teachers and to retain those we have. This is not easy in a small community such as ours, and is another instance in which patron support is so important. Candidates for positions can quickly determine the level of community support and decide if they want to be a part of the community. We must maintain and expand our program offerings, especially in the vocational area to allow us to serve all of our students adequately.
We, in this community, are the envy of many other school districts. We continually receive inquiries from other districts asking us how we have been able to do many of the things we have done in the last few years. I tell them that it is because of the solid support of our patrons. My belief is that support is based on the fact that the school board and administration have tried to be as honest and forthright as we can be, that we have tried to involve our patrons in our decision processes, and that we have earned the trust of our patrons.
My primary objective is to retain that trust. Again, thank you for your support of the Aberdeen School District.
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