Tough Decisions Ahead For New FWCS Board Members

By John W. Davis

November 8, 2010 Updated Nov 8, 2010 at 11:45 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - In the Fort Wayne Community Schools district, financial and education issues are always being considered by board members.

At this time, district leaders still have not received a final decision whether Governor Mitch Daniels will make additional cuts to education funding.

Earlier this year, FWCS had to cut $15 million dollars to balance their operating budgets for 2009 and 2010.

The three board members who did not win re-election were Mitch Sheppard, Pamela Martin-Diaz, and Kevin Brown.

Martin-Diaz and Brown agreed that FWCS will continue to face challenges but believe incoming members need to "stay the course" because they feel FWCS is headed in the right direction.

Outgoing FWCS Board Vice President Pamela Martin-Diaz has this advice,"put a focus on our relationship with newly elected officials downstate. We need to find a way to get our youngest students some early learning before they get to kindergarten."

Meanwhile, Outgoing FWCS Board Member Kevin Brown said the district has only budgeted $20,000 for board professional development.

"I think the dollar amount that we have set aside for professional development is in adequate," said Brown.

Brown said a district as diverse as Fort Wayne Community Schools presents unique challenges.

He feels professional development from the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) would get new members up to speed on district diversity issues.

Brown also commended residents for electing three graduates of FWCS.

FWCS Board President Mark Giaquinta was the only incumbent re-elected.

He told Indiana's NewsCenter FWCS was headed in the right direction and that his main focus will continue to be student achievement.

Giaquinta had this message for new members: "get ready because you're going to have a lot of hard decision ahead of you."

The three incoming members are Lisa Olinger, Julia Hollingsworth, and Jordan Lebamoff.

Olinger said her experience as an educational consultant as well as her husband's time on the FWCS Board (Jon Olinger) has prepared her to serve on the board.

"As a professor of education, adjunct faculty... I think that I can lend a little bit of that kind of knowledge to my position on the board," said Incoming FWCS Board Member Lisa Olinger.

Meanwhile, board members will continue to serve through two more meeting in 2010.

New members will attend their first meeting on January 10, 2011.

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