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Imagine Congress decided to create the position of second president. The new president would serve on par with the old one, signing bills and making policy speeches and state visits. Congress would build a new White House on the south side of the National Mall and give the president all the perks and trappings, like Secret Service, a second Air Force One and a sprawling Camp David.Sedona-Oak Creek School Ditrict Superintendent David Lykins
An absurd waste of tax money and resources? You bet. Ineffective and unnecessary? Totally.

The Sedona-Oak Creek School District Governing Board recently made the same financially irresponsible decision by hiring Scott Keller as second principal at West Sedona School. Board member Bobbie Surber was the only voice of reason against this waste of school money.

From all I’ve heard from parents, teachers and community members in Sedona, Keller is an excellent educator and administrator well deserving to lead any school in the district, but he has been passed over for promotion time and time again. Part of this action appears to be an attempt to throw Keller a bone so he doesn’t abandon our district for another that would reward his talents with a position as principal.

Last year, the SOCSD made a full-court press to get voters to approve the budget increase override. As the community’s newspaper, we formally supported this decision because the board told voters the funds would be used to pay “teacher and staff salaries” and “subjects such as art, music, drama, sports, advanced classes and more” — quotes taken directly from election advertisements proponents published in our newspaper.

Nowhere did their election materials state the funds would be used to “hire a new administrator to supplement one already doing an excellent job.”

Had the board pulled this dual principal stunt during the election, the override would have failed in a landslide — and deservedly so.

If the board feels current Principal Lisa Hirsch, Ph.D., is not doing a good job, it should not passive aggressively hire a second principal but instead have the guts to publicly discipline or fire her. Since that has not happened, we can only assume that feedback from parents is accurate and Hirsch is an excellent fit for West Sedona School.

According to the board, the move was prompted by low test scores on Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, a test the state is slowly phasing out in favor of other exams.

SOCSD Superintendent David Lykins recommended Keller’s promotion due to struggles the district has, like high staff turnover and lower enrollment. If the promised budget override actually went to increase dismal teacher salaries, turnover would decrease. Enrollment drops for any number of reasons, but bringing in a second person to administer fewer children is bad math — it’s an inverse proportion and no way to run a school.

Lykins has said West Sedona School has a “unique and diverse” student population, which dodges the cold hard truth: “Muchos estudiantes de Sedona hablan español.” The district should not hide that fact or hire a second administrator to smooth it away. Instead, the board needs to hire more English as a second language teachers, more Spanish-speaker tutors who can get students up to speed learning in English and translators who can speak to students’ parents.

What is most disturbing is that the board’s decision not only missed the main concern, which is the students, but it needlessly inflicts stress in a situation that will only hurt innocent children of our community.


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