NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Wausau’s school
superintendent won’t resign. She says – correctly – that there have been no
community uproars during her tenure until this recent controversy over holiday
concerts and music. Dr. Kathleen Williams has been here for almost three years.
By and large, her time here has been quiet.
I disagree with the way the school concert issue was
handled. But I don’t think Williams should be fired over it. I have many, many
questions for the people who hired her – the school board.
Williams is who she is. She is in her early 60s. She’s not
at the beginning or middle of her career as a school administrator. She’s near
retirement. I don’t think she has bad intentions. I do think she doesn’t “get”
this community. Anyone who’s lived her would have known that the holiday
concert issue would have blown up. Williams may do some long-range planning for
the Wausau School District, but it’s a plan someone
else will implement – or change it if they think their way is better. But it’s
hard for someone to have a long-term vision for an organization when their
personal time-horizon is short.
had many dilapidated schools, and needed an expensive renovation or rebuilding
program. Or, imagine the imbalance between east side and west side enrollment
becomes a more urgent problem leading to redistricting. What about a
hypothetical teachers contract stalemate? Someone who’s in it for the long term
has a much better chance of navigating the community through these types of
rough seas. Charles Skirka, who led the district for 17 years, had built up
enough trust within the community to steer a big bond-funded construction
project through referendum. Williams would not be capable to do the same. She
simply doesn’t have enough capital to rally support for it.
is a wonderful community… one of the best small cities in the country. We
should be looking for a young, up-and-coming superintendent who can articulate
a long-term vision for our schools and has enough staying power to see it
through. We’d like someone who isn’t easily lured away by the expensive suburbs
of Minneapolis or Chicago. Someone who dreams of a retirement
here, where they can enjoy our small-town lifestyle. We need someone who will
their home – not just a place they’re passing through on their career ladder.
They’d raise their children here – and will work like hell to make the schools
so good that they’ll send their kids.
That’s not Kathleen Williams. The problem isn’t her. The
problem is that, despite the tremendous assets this community brings to the
table, our Board of Education doesn’t seem to find the right person.