Ginopolis: We're disappointed, but not defeated
March 09, 2011 - Anyone who wants to vilify, malign, denigrate or otherwise speak ill of Lake Orion teachers will need first to take it up with Marion Ginopolis.
That was the word from the district's interim superintendent herself during a Feb. 23 response to issues that arose in the district's run up to the Feb. 22 bond election, which left a $25.5 million proposal defeated at the polls.
The funds were slated to pay for technology upgrades, new busses, safety and security measures and building refurbishment around the district.
While she extended thanks and appreciation to many, Ginopolis was fervent in her "thumbs down" evaluation of others who became vocal or otherwise active in what became a controversial election.
"I'm giving a giant thumbs-down to everyone who tried to second-guess our board's decisions and fiscal responsibility," Ginopolis said. "There were a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks who second-guessed everything our board has done. Those people have never or rarely been at a board meeting, and don't go into go in our schools, (yet) chastise our teaching staff."
Teacher salaries and union negotiations, she said, are an issue – but a separate issue.
"This is about people who work very hard," she said. "Stop beating us up because we do not deserve it."
Ginopolis said she didn't take issue with those who voted 'no,' on the bond, but did name the Taxpayer's Alliance as a thumbs-down recipient.
"Not for their opposition," she said. "I believe this is the American way. I don't have a problem with anyone who's opposed or anyone who's organized and opposed."
The dissemination and distribution of "erroneous information" about the district, however, was a different story.
"I wish we had 19 students in a classroom, which they accused us of," Ginopolis said, challenging doubters to go into district classrooms for a look-see of their own. "The teachers in this district work harder than any other district I've ever been in. Those people who so easily chastise and make negative, derogatory comments about our teaching staff need to go through me now, because I've had it."
And, although she didn't mention Orion Township Supervisor Matthew Gibb by name, Ginopolis did said she attended Gibb's "State of the Township" address last month and, as a result, pointed thumbs-down in his direction.
"The supervisor presented and talked about all the wonderful things going on in Lake Orion, and spoke about exceptionalism, but never once mentioned our school district except for our football team that won (a state championship this past November)."
Ginopolis, who noted she hoped Gibb's omission was unintentional, said she believes Orion is a "well-respected" community largely because it is home to a well-respected school district.
Thumbs-up went out to community members who opened their homes for question-and-answer sessions, community organizations that helped distribute information, and to board, central office and school administrators.
"Especially to Jillynn Keppler, who went above and beyond," Ginopolis said, adding PTO and PTA organizations, staff, teachers, custodians, and the high school leadership class to the list. "And to (LOHS seniors) Rawley Van Fossen and Becca Ryan, who took the time to learn the facts and support their schools."
The 7,126 voters who went to the polls Feb. 22 also earned a thumbs-up rating, "regardless of how they voted," while the district's 17,000 registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot one way or the other found themselves on the thumbs-down list.
Ginopolis also acknowledged The Lake Orion Review, and its Facebook page.
"The Review had a Facebook page that provided a venue for people to communicate and express their views," she said. "So a great thumbs up to those folks."
Acknowledgments made, Ginopolis said it was time to look ahead, not back, and outlined the immediate challenges ahead: school refurbishing, safety and security, and bus replacement were all issues that still need to be addressed, bond dollars or not.
"We also have to look at how we're going to meet the needs of 21st Century digital learners when we continue to have what I call an analogue environment," she said. "We're not just talking about computers. We're talking about making sure students have digital literacy; that they're inventive in their thinking, cooperative, and highly productive. Those are all skills our kids need for the future workforce."
Ginopolis also said it would be a challenge to continue providing the kind of education currently available in Lake Orion, given education funding cuts coming down the pike from Lansing.
It's time, she added, for change.
"One of the things we do too often in education is look at the pot of money we have, (then decide) how we are we going to spend it," Ginopolis said. "What we're going to do as a board and administration is redefine and change that paradigm. What is the vision we have for our kids, and where do we want them to be? Once we've decided that, then we determine how to fund it."
Decisions, she said, need to be made, and soon.
The board scheduled workshop meetings for Tuesday, March 22, from 5 p.m.-9 p.m., and Wednesday, March 23, beginning at 11 a.m. to begin those discussions; the regularly scheduled board meeting will not be held March 23.
Ginopolis also pointed out that while the bond's failure at the polls was somewhat disheartening, she was aiming at the future.
"We're disappointed, but believe me, we are not defeated," she said. "We are a profession and we need to stand up for what we believe in.
"We believe in the kids in this district, we believe in educating these kids, and we will continue to do so whether we have a bond or not a bond."
Lake Orion Review Editor