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Words from the Sup't Dr. Rod Rock

New year brings new school opportunities

January 19, 2011 - Happy New Year!

School Board Recognition

January is School Board Recognition month. I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the seven members of the Clarkston Community Schools' Board of Education. Elizabeth Egan, Cheryl McGinnis, Barry Bomier, Joan Patterson, Rosalie Lieblang, Sue Boatman, and Steve Hyer serve our community and district as elected officials. They represent more than 8,000 students and 1,000 staff members; oversee an $80,000,000 budget; make decisions regarding educational programming, policy, and contracts; and attend countless meetings. In difficult times, they make tough decisions regarding budget reductions. At all times, they make decisions regarding the livelihood of employees and the educational experiences of children.

Thank you school board members, for all that you do, give, and share.

Staff Appreciation

The Clarkston Community Schools wishes to recognize the following staff members who were recognized by their peers for outstanding service to our boys and girls:

Tim Berquist, Andersonville; Amy Morris and April Killewald, Bailey Lake; Kim Chadwell, Clarkston/Springfield Plains; Melissa Skvarce, Clarkston Elementary; Jody Sebring, Pine Knob; Michelle Laing, Springfield Plains; Kaki Gove, Pat Kent, and Jeanne Webster, Sashabaw Middle; Thomas Evans, Clarkston Junior High; and Jeanie Lamreaux, Clarkton High School.

We are exceedingly grateful to these people, and countless others, who go above and beyond to meet the needs of our students, staff, parents, and community. You do amazing work!

Ph.D. Completion

As an educational institution, we value hard work, determination, perseverance, expertise, collaboration, and excellence. In December, one of our teachers, Matt Ittig, completed his Doctor of Philosophy Degree through Wayne State University. This required great sacrifice, commitment, concentration, time, and study.

We wish to congratulate Dr. Ittig for this amazing accomplishment and to thank him for working constantly to become a better teacher. You bring great pride to the Clarkston Community Schools!

Budget Projections

Every community member knows the difficult economic times facing education, and every other sector. As astute and involved citizens, you're also aware that the Clarkston Community Schools reduced its budget this academic year (2010-2011) by approximately $8,000,000, affecting every aspect of our organization.

Unfortunately, the economic climate in Michigan will require our district, over the next two school years combined (2011-2012 through 2012-2013), to reduce or restructure our budget by an additional $6,300,000. We've arrived at this amount as follows:

Decline in Revenue from the State of Michigan, $2,000,000; Increased Costs, $2,200,000; Loss of ARRA and PA 18 Funding, $2,100,000; for a total of $6.3 million.

As we consider these economic difficulties, I, as the instructional leader of the Clarkston Community Schools, believe that the heart of our organization is the classroom. Research clearly shows that the teacher makes all of the difference in students' learning. Therefore, I will do everything I can to protect the student-teacher relationship and to enhance learning for every child in our care. This is my primary responsibility.

Concomitantly, I believe strongly that, in order to move education forward, provide excellence for all students, grow, and shape the future of living and learning in Clarkston, we must work diligently across sectors (e.g., public, private, governmental, not-for-profit, health care, higher education) to shape a strategic direction that will increase revenue, improve sharing, enhance the learning experience, reduce redundancy, and attract businesses and families to Clarkston. Therefore, the Clarkston Community Schools will embark on an aggressive strategic thinking process, with community partners, addressing these questions:

What is the future of living and learning in our world?

How will we, the citizens of Clarkston, in our community, schools, government agencies, not-for-profits, health care agencies, and businesses, partner to meet the living and learning needs of the future?

How can we grow together?

I've already met with several people to begin these discussions. In the coming weeks, I will reach out to additional partners. Following this, the school district will convene a meeting of partners and begin the strategic thinking process. Please let me know of your interest in partnering. Working together, we will build upon our existing excellence, collectively creating an amazing future of living and learning in Clarkston.

Code of Leadership

I've recently completed my fourth month as the superintendent of the Clarkston Community Schools. During this time, I've sought to develop relationships, communicate transparently, establish and build upon partnerships, understand the fiscal state of the district, comprehend the district's existing culture of thinking and learning, and identify emerging needs. Through the process, I've developed a Code of Leadership, which you can find at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us. I expect this Code to guide my thinking, learning, and leading through the next several months and years. I also expect that the ideas listed therein, along with existing documents, will guide our strategic thinking process.

I invite you to read the Code and to offer feedback to me. Although I've taken great care, deliberation, and consideration in developing this Code, I did so realizing that it is a living document that will evolve with my learning and leading in Clarkston. Please help me lead and learn by offering constructive feedback according to your unique perspective. As always, you can submit this feedback to me at rdrock@clarkston.k12.mi.us.

I look forward to seeing you soon,

Rod Rock, Ed.D., is superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools.

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