New FWCS Board Members Ready To Tackle Tough Issues

By John W. Davis

January 10, 2011 Updated Jan 11, 2011 at 12:13 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - New voices of leadership are emerging for Fort Wayne Community Schools.

Monday's night board meeting was the first for three newly-elected board members.

FWCS leaders said district-wide test scores are on the rise.

However, they also point out, at least $4 million dollars in budget cuts are looming in 2011.

The three new members all bring different life experiences to the board.

At-Large Member Lisa Olinger touts 12 years of experiences as an educational consultant.

Olinger told Indiana's NewsCenter that she is seeking more transparency from FWCS administrators.

She wants the community to become aware of issues earlier.

She feels that will provide community members more of a say, on the final decisions.

"That takes time and it takes lots of openness," said At-Large FWCS Board Member Lisa Olinger.

"Lots of information out to the people and taking a lot of data back in from our community as to how they feel about how our schools are being run," said Olinger.

"Cut through all the fluff, quite frankly," replied District 4 FWCS Board Member Jordan Lebamoff.

Lebamoff said his day job as a lawyer, has trained him to weigh-in on difficult decisions.

"I'm analytical. I'm objective. You look at the facts, you make the judgment calls, after you weigh the evidence. You make the best decision you can for the kids," said Lebamoff.

District 1 Member Julia Hollingsworth prides herself on being a retired FWCS teacher, coach and administrator.

Hollingsworth wants to bring the perspective of a classroom educator, to board members who may be unfamiliar.

We asked Hollingsworth what she would prefer between closing schools, laying off teachers or cutting employee benefits?

"A possible increase in the amount that an employee pays for their health insurance. If that can save some teachers jobs, I would be in favor of that," said District 1 FWCS Board Member Julia Hollingsworth.

Meanwhile, administrators gave an in-depth update on the district's 11 LEAD schools.

District leaders reported that improving educational practices is the right thing to do with or without special funding.

North Side High School and South Side High School two of the eleven LEAD schools.

Both are up for state takeover because of failing test scores.

South Side's state review will take place Monday, January 24, 2011.

North Side's state review will take place Tuesday, January 25, 2011.

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