Friday, July 18, 2014

School board welcomes new superintendent

GwenCarol Holmes introduces 100-day entry plan

Express Staff Writer

New Blaine County School District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes has spent her first few weeks at the job on a “listening tour,” meeting with numerous organizations to learn about attitudes toward the district and about the community and its culture. Holmes was at the Community Campus in Hailey on Wednesday, where she met with organizations that rent space from the district, including the Blaine County Recreation District, the College of Southern Idaho, the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony School of Music, Footlight Dance and the Lee Pesky Learning Center. Shown here, from left, are Blaine County Recreation District Executive Director Jim Keating, Holmes and BCRD Recreation Director Dave Keir. Photo by Roland Lane

     GwenCarol Holmes had been at her new job for 15 days, but Tuesday was her first time to officiate at a Blaine County School District board of trustees meeting. With Holmes as the new superintendent, district officials and board members are looking forward to a new era of success in achieving the district’s goal of becoming a “world-class student-focused community of teaching and learning.”

     “We’re on a good track,” said board Chairman Shawn Bennion. “I’m excited for the future. I’m excited for what lies ahead of us as we strive, as our mission statement says, to be world-class.

     “We’re on our way and we have the leadership to do that. As our team of trustees and superintendent work together, we’re going to get there.”

     Holmes was selected for the post in April, following a nationwide search to replace former Superintendent Lonnie Barber, whose contract was terminated by the board in September 2013.

     Assistant Superintendent John Blackman served as acting superintendent in the interim, and his attentiveness to the job did not go unnoticed at Tuesday’s meeting.

     “I especially want to thank Mr. Blackman, who I think as a district we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for this past year of leadership and for keeping multiple hats going at one time,” Holmes said. “And not only keeping things going, but also moving the district forward at a time when we had a leadership vacuum.

     “I just really thank him for keeping the district moving forward. And I’m incredibly thankful for his generosity and graciousness as a resource to me as I’m learning about the community and the culture and about the status of the district.”

     Blackman said he couldn’t have accomplished the job without the assistance of the district administrative staff.

     “It’s amazing how many people it takes to make me look good,” Blackman said. “GwenCarol, you’re walking into a great situation with a great team behind you and I’m glad to be part of that team.

     “I’m glad to return to my role as a support person for the district. I think that’s where I serve best.”

     Later in the meeting, Bennion gave a chairman’s report, stating that the board has scheduled a retreat for July 25-26 at the Sun Valley Inn, that the next regular board meeting will be on Aug. 12 and that the Idaho School Board Association’s Summer Institute training program has been canceled. He then asked other board members if there were any other highlights.

     “I think our highlight is sitting right there,” said board Vice Chair Kathryn Graves, while pointing at Holmes.

     Her statement was met with a round of applause.


Superintendent’s plan

     Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Holmes introduced her “entry plan and learning plan,” which she intends to implement in the first 100 days of her tenure.

     According to the plan, the intent is to “provide the new superintendent with opportunities to understand the culture of BCSD and the community it serves, establish baseline data, develop initial partnerships and/or relationships with district and community leaders, and begin developing a plan for reviewing and revising the BCSD Strategic Plan.”

     In implementing her plan, Holmes has been busy the past few weeks meeting with district staff, community organizations, news media and individuals. Her plan also calls for meetings with the arts community, faith community, recent graduates, non-graduates, government, the health network, the Latino community, law enforcement, students, parents, senior citizens and youth organizations.

     Heather Crocker, the district’s communications director, said Wednesday that Holmes will meet with anyone who wants to talk.

     “She’s really hit the ground running and she started meeting with people on the first day,” Crocker said. “If anyone wants to have a meeting with Dr. Holmes, all they need to do is call and we will set that up with any community group or individual.”

     To set up a meeting, contract Crocker at (208) 578-5005.


New board leadership

Trustee Shawn Bennion was unanimously re-elected as Blaine County School District board chairman at the board’s annual meeting on Tuesday, which was followed by the board’s regular July monthly meeting. The board, however, also voted unanimously to make a change the vice chairman position, giving the post to Trustee Kathryn Graves in place of Trustee Kathy Baker. Bennion, previously vice chair, was elected chairman in January with the resignation of then-board Chair Paul Bates. Baker was elected vice chair at that time. Graves is the board’s senior member, having served for five years.

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