Commentary: Camp Verde School Board would be wise to keep Superintendent Dr. Goodwin

Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki

Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki

I understand that the Board has begun its search to replace Superintendent Dennis Goodwin.

On behalf of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, it is my sincere hope that your search leaves open the possibility of offering Dr. Goodwin a renewed contract. While the Board has never openly stated its reasons for refusing to engage in contract negotiations with Dr. Goodwin, there are a number of good reasons why such negotiations would benefit the District and the local communities it serves.

The overriding purpose of our local primary education system is to prepare our children for higher education opportunities as well as for the rigors of competing in a non-static and fast-paced world of employment. The strength of our local and regional economies is directly proportional to the strength of our local education system and its ability to produce truly educated minds. The education system that we foster also contributes to the development of our children as fully informed, functional and participating members of our communities.

We are literally educating the next generation of community, political and business leaders whose task it will be to take our communities forward into a future defined in large part by the ideas and policies that flow from the knowledge and skills learned in our schools and in our families. In my view, Dr. Goodwin has been and can continue to be a leader dedicated to the continual improvement of the District and its educational mission.

As the chief executive of the Board, the superintendent acts to carry out the vision and goals of the Board through day-to-day administration and decision making on the broad range of issues facing a growing school district. An able superintendent must be able to move easily between daily interactions with principals, teachers, staff, students, parents, community and business leaders, and to balance competing demands on many levels, all on a budget that frequently fails to measure up to needs. The superintendent must be able to orchestrate the work of this diverse group of people toward the common goal of high quality education for our children. While this certainly is a tall order to fill, I firmly believe that Dr. Goodwin has demonstrated over his tenure here that he is more that capable of meeting the challenges facing our district and helping the Board achieve its goals for the district and our students.

Most of all, I sincerely believe that Dr. Goodwin has demonstrated that his work is guided by a dedication to the principle that what is best for the district is determined by what is best for the students.

The Board should not turn away from such proven vision and dedication so easily.

In the case of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, we attribute the recent successes of our students – a 100% graduation rate in 2017 – to the strong policies of community and family outreach and involvement in the educational processes that has been fostered under Dr. Goodwin’s leadership. We would not want to see a regression away from such policies. I suspect that these same positive changes have had similar effects throughout the larger Verde Valley community served by the district. There is something to be said for continuity and sticking with a proven commodity. The Board should not continue the revolving door policy that seems to have characterized the superintendent’s office in recent years. The Board should embrace the positive changes that Dr. Goodwin has brought to the community and give those changes an opportunity to take root and grow. At a time when Arizona’s schools are struggling to serve our children on limited budgets and with limited vision from our political leaders, we should take heart that here in Camp Verde Dr. Goodwin has shown us that positive change can be a catalyst for a renewed commitment to the education of our children and in turn a brighter future for our communities.

For all of the above reasons, I respectfully urge the Board to consider Dr. Goodwin for retention as the District’s Superintendent.

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