Letter to the Cannon County Community,
As a collective school board, newly formed and eager to advocate for those for which we were chosen to serve, we want to better openly communicate with our community. With just over a month with four very new members in place, we believe that communication starts now.
Cannon County is a beautiful and friendly community filled with good people who are proud to belong to such a place. We are loyal to our roots. We are amazingly supportive in times when some in our community are struggling and have loss. We rally around each other and cheer one another on. There are so many things that make Cannon County a very special place to live life.
Our school system in Cannon County is to be counted as one of the important things that makes our community special. Our principals are decorated professionals who have returned to their home community to lead our system to excellence. They are motivating and fearless leaders who we value and admire. Our teachers are fiercely hardworking and dedicated to the growth of each individual child. We commend our county's teachers for their tireless effort, especially during this unprecedented time of a pandemic. The support staff that our schools have are motivated to go above and beyond to enhance the students' school experience, despite being underpaid. We want them to know that we appreciate their support and hard work. We count each principal, teacher, and staff member as an enormous blessing!
Although Cannon County is uniquely special, like all communities, all schools, and all people, there can always be room for improvement. As a board, we recognize the need for imminent change and improvement in order for our children to have greater success. When we talk about bettering and creating more opportunities for the children of our county we consider that to begin within the school system. We are committed as a unified school board to work hand-in-hand with our Director of Schools, focusing on the tasks at hand that are laid before us. The foundation of the relationship we are building with him is one that is forward thinking, with our vision at the forefront of each decision. Excellence in Education Every Day and in Every Way!
With that being said, although it begins in our school system with us, your school board, as it's leaders, the improvements that we are needing should be considered a community-wide initiative. We need loyalty and support like never before. It is time for us to rally as a strong and unified community for our children. Our students need the opportunities granted to them just as other districts and other counties have made available for their students. Our children deserve better and safer facilities that will provide a conducive environment in which to learn. Our students deserve the best we can give. Our children need us to step up and show up like never before.
Why do we as a community need to step and show up for the students of Cannon County?
1. Deteriorating facilities and grounds. Cannon County has seven schools for which they must maintain buildings and grounds. For a county and school district of our size and monetary budget, that is an enormous task. All but one of these buildings are 40+ years old, with the newer one approaching the 20 year mark. Almost all of these buildings have asbestos in the floors, ceilings, and pipes. Multiple schools have major septic and sewer issues. Some schools struggle to meet fire and accessibility codes. Repairs on the roofs, plumbing, and heating and air systems are endless. Students need safer and healthier environments in which to learn successfully!
2. Limited academic and extracurricular opportunities. In comparison to other counties and districts, Cannon County is limited in terms of a broad academic curriculum. Broadening our curriculums will better equip our college-bound students to succeed at the next level and allow them to be more competitive for scholarships. A large majority of our students could benefit from the broadening of the Career and Technical Education program. It's time that we serve these students! More programs need to be added to our existing CTE program of study in order to better prepare our students for the workforce. Extending the availability of these types of classes to our middle grades would also provide endless opportunities to our students. Of course, we also want our students to also have the abilities to succeed athletically and in extracurricular clubs and organizations. Again, in comparison to other districts, we fall short.
3. Low test scores. Teachers teach and students learn. Yes, this is so true, but there are so many factors that affect the classroom and productivity that exists therein. This is tied to the environment in which students learn. As we have already spoken of, our facilities desperately need to improve. Resources for our children should be endless. But with the budget that is in place there is nowhere to cut costs in order to buy textbooks, let alone buy additional resources to complement the learning process.
4. Overworked supervisors and leaders. Over the course of the last month, we as a board have met with each supervisor that is employed with our school district. We sat with them and were in disbelief as to how each one has multiple hats and an unfathomable amount of responsibilities as they lead and care for our seven schools. Where most districts have one supervisor per one responsibility, in Cannon County we have just a handful of leaders with countless and never-ending responsibilities.
5. Students leaving and few students moving into the district. When you lose students, you lose money from the state and the budget suffers and so do our teachers, students, and staff. Why do we lose students? Why are new students not coming into our district? For all of the reasons that we have listed here and it has been made worse by the effects of the COVID pandemic.
So how can we remedy this? How can we as a community unify and rally for students?
A joint investment; an investment that may make us uncomfortable for a time but will lead to a future where things for our students and their future, and therefore for us, will be comfortable, affordable, safe, secure, competitive, and so much more.
The wheel tax; a fair tax that includes all involved; a community effort. The sales tax increase; again a fair tax; every purchase made in our county will in return help our county. Vote FOR both of these in order to help our schools and our children! The money generated by these unified community initiatives will be allocated to the schools, allowing buildings and facilities to be built and repaired, new resources to be available for students, district administrators not to be spread so thin, new programs to be added, and athletics to be grown on all levels. But most importantly, our children, our students will be able to be more competitive academically, athletically, and as they enter the adult world in the fashion as to which suits them best. They can enter the adult world knowing that their community rallied behind them with the best intentions and determination for them to succeed.
As we go to the polls this week and next week, let's think about the future, not the past. Let's think selflessly instead of selfishly; there is a big difference. Let us decide to take care of these problems that will inevitably bring change, together as a unified community instead of refusing to give and allowing outsiders to come in and change it for us. Let's be okay with being uncomfortable for a time if it means a better future for our children.
It is our goal to be available, open, and to meet everyone with kindness and understanding. In the weeks and months to come we will be holding town halls in order for the community to get to know us better as a board and to discuss in truthful detail the issues that we are facing as a county school district. Please be anticipating the announcement of those events. We will be coming to you, our community, as a unified five-member school board, with the vision of "Excellence in Education Every Day and in EveryWay." We know the success of this vision begins with us and we are dedicated to leading our district as we all strive to make it a reality!
Cannon County Board of Education Members 2020-2022