Recognizing those serving the district

January is School Board Recognition Month, and it is my honor to acknowledge the five sitting members of the Salem Board of Education, as well as all of the many citizens who have served on Salem’s board over the past 165 years. In a recent press release, the Ohio School Boards Association applauded school board members for their participation in “what is perhaps the purest form of grassroots democratic principles upon which our republic was founded.”

School boards are charged with the following responsibilities: making district policy, approving employee contracts, adopting curriculum, authorizing budgets and insuring sufficient funding, and hiring the superintendent and the treasurer. To perform these five tasks effectively, members must stay apprised of changes in federal and state laws and directives, and they must be sensitive to the concerns of those they serve.

Salem’s current board members – Steve Bailey, Ted Bricker, LuAnn Haddad, Carol Hrvatin, and Doug Moffett – bring to their positions a variety of experiences and a commitment to long hours. Furthermore, they recognize that public education represents the greatest hope for doing what’s right for our country — now and in the future. In the words of our mission statement, “Salem City Schools will prepare all students in a safe and welcoming learning environment to be informed citizens who embrace life-long learning and are capable of taking their places as contributing members of society.”

In any deliberative body, power derives from the careful consideration of different perspectives: the willingness of participants to listen to each other, to learn from one another, and to work together to reach stated goals is as sure a recipe for success as I know. Given all the partisan acrimony that attends so much political discourse lately, let me say that it is gratifying and reaffirming to work with public servants who focus so conscientiously on their sworn duties.

On the topic of public service, I want also to recognize Margaret Gibbs, who retired recently after 51 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Salem Public Library. Consider everything that Margaret has been part of since she joined the library board: the beautification of the facilities, the adoption and integration of technology, and the continual expansion of services. What a formidable legacy. I have said before that our library is a community gem – an institution that makes Salem a better place to live. So, to Margaret and to all of the colleagues with whom she served during her tenure, thank you.