We're one week away from the start of the 2018-19 school year in the Crookston School District, and interest in Crookston Public Schools is especially high with a new superintendent, Jeremy Olson, poised to embark on his first year here at the helm of the district.
It's a big year and hopes are high. By all accounts, the school board and the committees who interviewed the superintendent candidates got their guy; from a very early point in the process it was universally understood that Olson was a tremendous candidate for the position, and the only discernible concern was over whether or not he'd accept an offer to come here. Olson enthusiastically did just that, and from the moment he first started making visits to Crookston before he officially started his new job, there has been an enthusiasm, almost a palpable excitement, even, over what he will bring to the table to improve the district and, specifically, the public schools.
We need a school year where the enrollment doesn't nosedive a couple of months into the fall. Stable enrollment would put smiles on everyone's faces, but wouldn't it be tremendous if the public schools, under Olson's direction, could be improved to the point of making it an actual destination district that families enthusiastically want to enroll their kids in? Let's be confident and proud and try to grow this thing.
We need a resolution on the bus garage, too. It's unacceptable that a district striving for greatness has a bus garage that is so poor that the best of today's new buses can't even be purchased because they don't fit. Olson knows this issue needs to stay on the front-burner, so expect some sort of strategy, one that might even involve the district collaborating with some of the most vocal opponents of the previous bus garage ballot initiative, to emerge sooner rather than later.
Test scores need to improve as well. Kids seem to get off to a decent start in Crookston's public schools, but by the time they get to the high school, well...the test scores indicate that some things need to be done differently. Something is not clicking.
When a new person steps into a position of leadership, inevitably, these days especially, trendy words like “climate” and “culture” are going to come up, as people both inside and outside of the organization wonder if the current climate and culture will change, and if that change will be for the better, or worse. For Olson, while he might not yet be ready to dive into daunting things on the level of climate and culture, he does seem to think things need to be more positive, and that people need to be proud of their public schools and the good things they have to offer.
And when Olson does get around to addressing the current climate and culture in the public schools (at CHS especially), and he is inevitably faced with resistance by those who say things have been done a certain way for a long time, here’s hoping that his response is driven by a desire to make positive change, and make our local public schools something we can all be even more proud of.