Board Duty, Is It Worth It? Yes! School Board at Adams Central? I’m Not Sure!

I often get asked the question, “why do you spend so much time serving on boards?”  The simple answer is that I feel all should serve their community in some way.  Whether that is in your school, church, fire department, town council, 4-H, MOPS or any other service to the greater good of others, I see it as a positive investment in the future.

My wife would say I over extend myself time-wise, and I respectfully agree with her!  At the current time I am serving on Congressman Smith’s Ag Advisory Committee, Chairing the Prairie Loft Center Board, Chairing the Development Committee on that board, serving on the Nebraska Rural Radio Association Board of Directors, serving on a training committee for the AgChat Foundation, serving on the Adams County Farm Bureau Board, and my wife and I recently completed a stint on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Committee.

Every single one of those committees serves my chosen occupation of Agriculture in one way or another and that is the reason I chose to put my time and effort into supporting those organizations and people.  As, I look forward to the end of my term on the Prairie Loft Board this month I might choose to focus my energy more toward things that benefit the community as a whole and not just agriculture or even mostly agriculture. School Board is one of the things I am considering along with some other opportunities.  Is school board something I have always had my mind set on doing?  No, and in fact I would say the opposite!  Is it an incredibly rewarding position?  No, it is a thankless job!

Why even consider it then?  I believe the one thing good to come out of our school district voting down a school bond twice in the last 18 months is that people have come to the realization that we need high quality individuals with the ability to make decisions based on a certain amount of business acumen balanced with common sense leading our district!  This district needs to come together and do something now.  Our district has been fractured and pitted against each other in this battle for the vision of a select few.  I spent a lot of time on the phone putting together a diverse group of approximately twenty people to try to come to an agreement on how to proceed.  We met with some Administrative staff and came together with another group in the district that had been formed by some other patrons in our district (bringing our numbers to over forty) and had discussions.

I said before the second attempt at a bond that we needed to throw the people strongly for and the people strongly against in a room, lock the doors and tell them to come up with a solution.  The board chose not to do that, but to instead rely on a mail survey with a 22% response rate (recycling it for toilet paper comes to mind here). We, as patrons put those people in a room and it took 40 minutes to come up with a viable plan to move the district forward!  So, here we are, two failed bonds later, a district divided that is generally looked on as one of the best in the state, and extreme distrust in our school board.  Our united group of citizens that are representative of both sides of the failed bonds come to the board with a proposal that we are willing to get behind and help with and we already have a board member out working against the plan saying he is going to shoot holes in it.

I do not claim to be a genius, but after getting my butt handed to me on two different, but not so different bonds that were certain to pass I would operate with a little bit of humility and try to work with people, but that’s just me.

“When things go wrong, great leaders look in the mirror for the person responsible.”  -Doug Henley

Maybe our biggest issue lies in Leadership, not in facilities?

“Successful leaders listen. They use a lot of common sense in their decision
making…and they listen. Leaders use their intuition along with moral and
spiritual values…and they listen. Leaders communicate clearly and directly…and
they listen.”-Doug Henley

It might be time for a change in our district!  Not sure how I want to be a part of that yet, but the wheels are turning!!!

What is your idea for change in our District?  Keep it respectful, keep names out of it and let’s have a discussion.  I will be approving all postings, and anything deemed offensive or inappropriate will not be approved.  Pleas avoid personal attacks also as they will not be approved.

Author: Ryan

Self-employed farmer raising the worlds food, feed, fiber, and fuel.

15 thoughts on “Board Duty, Is It Worth It? Yes! School Board at Adams Central? I’m Not Sure!”

  1. Best of luck at Adams Central. We had many of the same battles at Lexington before we got both sides to sit down together and hammered out a solution that was better than either side had to start with. Having to add on to the schools because of growth hurts, but not as much as having to close a school because of declining enrollment.

  2. Mr. Weeks,

    I happened to run across your post regarding the Adams Central School board. First off I encourage you to post this as we live in a democratic society. Is it politically correct for you not to accept all people’s comments? We accepted everyone’s bond votes right? You see I have an Adams Central education and believe we have this thing called freedom of speech. It truly is a great thing. Thanks for believing in our American democratic process and freedom of speech by posting my reply!

    As a past graduate of the Adams Central School District I am appalled by your disrespect towards School Board Members. This members spend their time to improve our school district. After all our patrons voted these individuals into office I am going to respect their decisions. After all six people came to the same conclusion, not an easy thing to do. We live in a democratic society where if you are not happy with your leaders in office you take a step to make a change. Congratulations for taking the right step to run for School Board. I certainly encourage you to spend countless hours helping our district if elected. A special thanks goes out to all the School Board Members who gave me an opportunity to go to a great HIGH SCHOOL. Being part of the School Board will be a great opportunity for you to give back as well.

    One question…What exactly did you do after the bond issue did not pass the first time? Why not step up and run for office at that time?

    As a supporter of the bond issue I knew the School Board election would ultimately determine the direction of the bond. We actually had one School Board member who disagreed with the bond issue. After just a few months on the School Board this individual actually changed his position on the bond issue. We spend almost half a million dollars a year running schools that are not efficient, but this is not your argument and is certainly not something I am going to get into. I think we all agree that the schools needed help 10 years ago. After all I know you would not live in an old crummy house or use a four row planter. It is always nice to build a new energy efficient house or have a 16 row planter! I just hope the fire marshal does not show up to take a look at our schools. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    As far as the surveys are concerned I do not think you should be upset with the school board, but instead your own patrons that failed to send the survey back. This was a chance before the election to have their voices heard. If the survey did not show a potential positive bond vote then they would certainly not have tried to pass it.

    As I stated before we live in a democratic society so what the patriots vote for is what we live with. Lets not make this conversation about the bond issue its time to move on and give all Adam Central school students EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES.

    This response is more about our democratic process. If you have the freedom of speech to talk out against our School Board Members than I have the opportunity to reply. Not be edited. If I want to thank them for what they do please let me do so. THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS. YOUR DEDICATION IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.

    1. Brock,
      While I do appreciate you defending your Mother’s honor, let me point out a few things. First, I noticed you and Travis are both posting from the same IP address, and it would be wise to allow your post to be approved prior to Travis referencing it. Just a thought.

      Second, this is my Blog Named “Days of the Weeks” not “Musings From the (insert name here) Family”. Just for future reference, it is a Democratic society and form of Government, the Constitution guarantees our freedom of speech and it is a “living” document.

      Next, I only voted one of the current school board members into office, so therefore I can say what I wish. You may disagree with what I say, but that is the great thing about your diatribe on our Democratic Process and Free Speech. Let me also point out that I never said I “was” going to run for school board, I said I was “considering” running. As far as not running after the first bond, I was serving a multitude of organizations in a volunteer leadership capacity at that time and frankly there was not enough time in the day with young kids who actually attend the Elementary Schools.

      Relating to said board member changing his mind, I would say five on one with an administration having the same opinion would wear on me also! I would also say that if your half million dollar figure came from where I think it did then I will relate back to my blog comment regarding distrust!

      I do not live in an old house, but did until I could afford to buy a used one and do something different. To reference the planter, you can have the newest planter (school) in the world and if the person (board) running it doesn’t understand the maintenance and operation of said planter you will be planting your seeds on top of the ground (making bad decisions) and your performance will invite the scrutiny of your banker (Patrons).

      I would also say that if we continue to put “I sure hope the fire marshal doesn’t show up” in print, he surely will!!!! Regarding the survey, anyone with a decent amount of common sense wouldn’t wipe with it when you have a 22% response rate which is actually a small amount higher now that we know there are only around 3200-3300 registered voters in the district. You help make my point in saying more people should have responded and then the board would have made the right decision. If that was even a blip on the radar that we need more response, it should have been thrown out. Also, to use the word “equal” bothers me as it leans toward socialism, not democracy. The word “similar” would be a much more appropriate term especially in light of the diverse make up of our district.

      Regarding moving forward, that is where most of us have been since the first bond and continue to be. We have put together a group of varying opinions which the board failed to do in two tries of the same thing. And to end on a positive note, I also thank them for their service, but as a Patron, father of elementary kids, taxpayer and involved resident of the district I have the right to hold them accountable to the decisions they make as a board.

      1. This has nothing to do with a family member being on School Board. I to have a vote in this district and use it to a different way then either that of my parents. I was taught I did not always have to agree with their political opinion and certainly do not agree on certain stances. I also want to make the point known prior to the first bond issue coming up I wrote several speeches regarding our elementary schools when we acquired them. I actually came to the same conclusion prior to the school board saying we need one site to keep cost down. I spent several hours doing research and felt one site was the correct decision. Then the School Board did more research in the year following. I have been off at college this entire time, so my parents have had no influence on my opinion. I researched every fact on my own.

        What does the School Board get out of building a new school? They have nothing invested in it. I feel bad for every member that has dedicated so much time and effort to be treated as if their time has not been appreciated. I am confident if you run your time will be greatly appreciated. Also as a student a special thanks goes out to our administrative staff for your hard work and dedication as well.

        I did exercise my right to educate myself prior to going to the voting booth. I am sorry that the people you tried to vote into School Board did not get voted in. This is why we call it a democracy. I too am moving on after disagreeing with the school vote, because we live in a democracy and the people voted. I am thankful that we did have 22% of people turn in the survey and am extremely disappointed that the other 78% did not have enough time to fill them out. I know as a voter the survey was the first step the Board needed to see the correct direction we needed to take. I actually had my survey sent to my location to fill out (It was this important to me as a voter). Very disappointed in our patrons for not replying to the survey. I am very proud however of these patrons for taking the time to vote. As we did have a high voting turn out.

        Our current schools are so spread out how can we not save money by combining them. Just take a second to think about everything that goes into multiple schools. If we condensed these schools into one or two schools we would certainly save money. As a past Adam Central Student I have seen our faculty desperately scramble to make it to their next location on time. We have a fantastic faculty and they we are wasting them by having many of them spend an hour a day driving from building to building.

        I think it is time to cut our losses and get down to two schools. Something no one agrees with as well. That is purely my own opinion. We can not afford to continue to run several school, it is simply not cost effective.

        As far as equal opportunities don’t all students who are in the School District deserve the same treatment? Are you telling me students at District 33 do not deserve the same stuff as students at Juniata? If so please try telling this to the parents of students at District 33. I hope I misunderstood you because that is terrible. By no means do I think socialism is good, but Students in the same district deserve the same opportunities. Whatever you want to call it they do!

        I know you will certainly never agree with me, but again its why we call it a democracy. These School Board Members, Administrators, and Faculty members live in our community. They dedicate so much time to our school district they deserve some form of respect if you agree with them or not.

        I certainly do not need recognition for all the stuff I am involved in, but I can tell you I was asked to run as Vice President of my University. I time consuming task. I already get up at 8am and am on the run till midnight. When asked to run I questioned it for seconds before knowing it was the right thing to do. I knew running could make a difference and certainly am doing so. No hesitation on my part. If this is something you are passionate about and think you can solve I would love to see you solve our problem.

      2. Brock, I appreciate your hard work and involvement and I am sure that will serve you well, along with many others. Continue to do that while you have unlimited time resources. Adding a family of your own to those time commitments will greatly change your perspective on time management and what your priorities are.

        I will say that you are blurring the line between accountability and respect. I have not mentioned a name, not personally attacked, or specifically spoke of an individual on the board, but spoke in general terms. To say that they have had errors in judgement and are not serving the interests of the voting public in the district is not an incorrect statement and speaks to accountability and that accountability includes poor Leadership. I have respect for the people serving, however I do believe we have some representatives that are in over their heads and fail to be informed themselves. That was painfully evident the last few months and specifically at the last board meeting. I have spent a lot of time on my side of the issues and now have helped with others to come up with an acceptable plan to move forward by putting together a diverse group from all sides of the issue. This group includes many from district 33 also. No one can argue that a one site might have been the most cost effective from an operations standpoint, but, cheapest is not always best! I have the opinion that a closely involved parental base with schools near their residences makes for a better elementary experience for our kids, so we have a difference of opinion on what is best based on different reasoning.

        You are taking my “similar” quote completely out of context. I think all deserve a “similar” education. No school is going to be exactly the same. To build them that way would be a dis-service to the district. There are people out working to get a bond issue for three sites by the may primary and the fact is that if the board chooses not to work with the Patron group we will have more divisiveness and more issues going forward. We all have been pitted against each other in this fight for the one site, and that is the unfortunate thing!

  3. I love quotes. Quotes can say what you want them to say. Their is truly a quote for everything occasion…

    “Few businessmen are capable of being in politics, they don’t understand the democratic process, they have neither the tolerance or the depth it takes. Democracy isn’t a business.”

    “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Rosalynn Carter

    Words of encouragement….
    “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”
    Jim Rohn

    “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” Douglas McCarther

    “It is very comforting to believe that leaders who do terrible things are, in fact, mad. That way, all we have to do is make sure we don’t put psychotics in high places and we’ve got the problem solved.” Thomas Wolfe

    It is always easy to blame those who go against what we believe, but it is those people who challenge us to do better when no one else thinks it is possible that are great leaders.

    Often we have to take a good look in the mirror before speaking out against others. As Brock said we voted these people into office. This is a School Board not the U.S Government. Their next campaign money is not coming from the passage of a bond. It is silly for you to think six people are trying to get something by you. You voted them in. A little respect would be nice. Have you voiced your opinion to your school board? Have you attended a board meeting where you voiced this opinion? Did you send your survey back? Did you encourage others to attend these meetings? Did you attend all meetings? Did you encourage people to send back their surveys? Did you run for office? Have you toured all the schools? Did you try to educate yourself and others on the situation? Did you write to your newspaper? Did you vote for members of your board? Did you educate yourself before voting for members of the school board? If you voted, did you vote for any members that you are not talking poorly about? Did you suggest a different opinion to the school board? Did you take interest in the school prior to the bond issue? Have to talked to the staff about the bond issue? Is this bond something the staff see’s fit? After all these staff members work their daily. Are you going to voice your opinion since the bond failed? Are you going to donate money to the school to add onto Juniata? What did you truly do to help? If you did all these things then maybe you where write to speak out online against your school board.

    1. Travis,

      Thanks for your well thought out response! I would answer yes to all of your questions except where you ask if “Is this something the staff see’s fit”, and then I would say some, not all and I would say based on two failed bonds while considering most staff are patrons also, there probably was similar concerns regarding the decision to run the same bond a second time, in fact I “know” there were similar concerns.

      In regards to donating the money to Juniata to add on, are you going to step up to the plate in the monetary ways I have for my school? I put my money where my mouth is and you better be ready to also if you want to call me out! Feel free to contact the Principal at Juniata and ask him to expand on that if you wish. Secondly, most people that donate to causes and organizations expect a fair amount of proof that they are sustainable and serve the citizens the way the citizens wish to be served. Teachers are what makes a school, not buildings so we opt to support staff with technology, etc., and it has been done!

      So, judging by your criteria to have the right to speak out I think I meet your qualifications and then some. When you meet them all, feel free to tell me how I should think, or maybe I should use the quote “educate the patrons”!

  4. Travis, it is obvious that you are a “johnny come lately” to this issue as Ryan and others have done all the things that you referenced in your lengthy list of questions. And as far as Brock’s commentary on free speech, the great thing about free speech is we can openly question those in authority or office and hold them accountable for their actions. Those on the school board were elected to carry out the will of the people, not to assume they know better than everyone else and do what they want. There is a lot of expertise that can be drawn upon from the patron base and it would be a mistake not to listen to that expertise.

    A plan has now been presented that patrons from all sides of the district have compromised on and the board is asking for “overwhelming” support before they proceed, which is understandable. It is easy to play “monday morning quarterback” but after the first one site school bond attempt failed, the board should have demanded “overwhelming” support to run the same thing a second time. 22% response rate with only 60% of that in a survey was not overwhelming support in my opinion. Even the mention of a one site school bond in the survey upset a lot of patrons since it was voted down once already. A different option should have been explored at that time. The patron groups that got together to present this latest plan seems to be doing the work that the board should have done to reach an agreement. It didn’t take much time at all for a compromise to be reached and bring the district back together. If the board chooses to take a different approach, it will then seem that they have their own agenda and have no interest in entertaining ideas from any other sources, particularly the patrons of which they are supposed to represent.

    1. Travis is right.

      Let me ask everyone a question. What agenda could the board have? What can they possibly get out of passing this bond? This is not the US Government, people. Companies are not donating to their reelection hoping these board members keep them in mind. This is a High School Board. They are not trying to undermind our district. What grounds do you have to say that they have their own agenda.

      1. That is a great question! I can’t figure it out either why the board can’t pay attention to what the voters have stated and instead run the same bond twice. I didn’t say they have their own agenda, but it certainly will seem like it if they don’t listen to the patrons. By the way, it is “undermine” not “undermind.”

  5. “I appreciate your hard work and involvement and I am sure that will serve you well, along with many others. Continue to do that while you have unlimited time resources. Adding a family of your own to those time commitments will greatly change your perspective on time management and what your priorities are.” You seem to have done a lot of research on the topic. This is an important topic people need to be informed about. All elections are important to our democratic process and voters should be informed before voting. Thank you for appreciating my hard work and dedication to a school I care about seeing head in the right direction.

    If I could have another hour in the day to do anything for myself I would greatly appreciate it. Having a family is fantastic certainly not work.

    Time is certainly something I could use more of if you have any suggestions for me. I would greatly appreciate them…

    Have you ever made a mistake? Sure we all make mistakes, but following the crowd is not always the right thing to do. After all these bonds failed by 4-6% that’s less than 250 votes in our small district. You act like it failed by 25%. We had bonds in surrounding area’s that did not pass the first time, but instead the second. With the first vote being so close wouldn’t you think it had a chance the second time? No what a stupid idea.

    I encourage you to run. Was this not your question? Board Duty, Is It Worth It? Yes! School Board at Adams Central? I’m Not Sure! Why is Adams Central Board Duty any different than Hastings High’s? You are always going to have people disagree with you. Great leaders don’t always have the crowd behind them. I know people on Hasting High’s board and they get treated the same way without a bond issue. Lets all respect those people we have voted into place. Disagree with them, but take a step to make your opinion hear not sit back in the crowd and make faces.

    This is why I respect you making a blog. It’s the first step towards speaking out. Running might be the next best thing! You only need like 1,000 votes. Not to shabby.

  6. Lets all just agree to disagree. I truly believe this is the only thing we all agree on. I honestly hope you find a solution, and if you do have a solution that fits both sides you certainly have my vote!

    Good luck to the Adams Central School District! Since this vote we must all drop a few things we want to see and do this crazy thing call compromise. It can be hard, but if we ALL educate ourselves on the issue we can do it.

    Wishing all a great holiday!

    1. Brock, I couldn’t agree more with agreeing to disagree, and meeting in the middle. That is what the patron group is trying to do! I will however file your comment about having a family being fantastic and not being work and re-visit that with you in 15 years or so. It is fantastic, but if you think having a family is not work, you are sorely mistaken. It is very rewarding work!!! Now if your definition of work means something you do not enjoy and have to do out of obligation or commitment, then having a family is most certainly not work! Happy Holidays to you also.

  7. I think you misinterpreted my comment. Work can be enjoyable and rewarding. But I just have never thought of my family as work. Can family keep you on the move with my family I can certainly say yes. But I just do not see my family as work. I guess we agree to disagree again. Good luck with your endeavors.

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