On Monday, the Miami Trace Local Schools Board of Education thanked Bruce Kirkpatrick for his leadership as board president throughout an extremely challenging 2020, and also unanimously elected David Miller as president and Rob Dawson as vice president for 2021.
Typically, a new president and vice president are elected at the beginning of each calendar year.
Following his election at the Miami Trace Central Office, Miller said he thinks the district’s main objective in 2021 is to keep students in the classroom. Miami Trace returned to full capacity on Monday and will remain in daily contact with Fayette County Public Health to monitor the COVID-19 status of the district.
“The kids have lost a lot from not being in the classroom, so that’s really my objective, to try as much as possible to keep everybody in the classroom and try to finish out the school year,” said Miller. “Our administration, staff and teachers, in my opinion, are the best around. They work well together, they keep the board informed and everything they do is for the betterment of the students. Any decision they make is for the students, it’s not anything personal for any of them. There were some tough decisions that had to be made this past year. For example, shutting down sports at Christmas time. That wasn’t a very pleasant decision to be made, but it was the right decision to me. Because it was made to make sure we could get the kids back to school in the new year and that’s what we did.”
Dawson also stressed the importance of in-person learning.
“Having a daughter in the district, she was freaking out the other day thinking that she wasn’t going to get to come back to school,” he said. “This is so important that the kids be in the schools. Some kids will say they don’t like school, but they need it and they know they need it. I so appreciate everything that our district has done to stay together through a very rough year. That’s what is most important, keeping those kids in the classroom, and if there are other things we have to sacrifice because of that, we may not like it, but it’s their mental health that is most important to me.”
Board member Charlie Andrews thanked superintendent Kim Pittser, assistant superintendent Rob Enochs, treasurer Debbie Black, business manager Bill Franke, and the rest of the district’s leadership for their guidance during trying times.
“I just hope our people will continue to be patient and diligent. Sometimes it’s easy to see a small picture but there’s a big picture out there too,” said Andrews. “Our big picture is we have 2,600 students and 300-plus staff members, and to me that’s more important than dwelling on 10 kids who are involved in one thing. We have to keep as many people safe as we can. That’s my objective…we need students in the classroom. It’s a crazy time right now. People get upset pretty easily. But you just have to try to sit back and look at that big picture.”
Board member Mike Henry said, “Sometimes people think because the virus is here, you guys just stop. It’s very evident that you’re not stopping. Everything we’re doing here is proactive and I commend you guys for what you’re doing.”
All of the board members showed their appreciation for Kirkpatrick’s service as president, and Pittser presented him with a plaque during Monday’s meeting.
“I want to thank the staff, the administrators, the certified and non-certified, and everybody for such an excellent job through all this,” said Kirkpatrick. “I know it’s not over, but what you all went through to keep these buildings going and keep the kids in school, it’s just a remarkable job. I want to thank the board for being so supportive of everything we try to do around here. Without you guys, it would be hard to get anything done. We work well together and that’s what it takes — a good working board — to be successful.”
At the end of the meeting, Pittser addressed the COVID situation.
“Yes, we are back at full capacity right now and we hope and pray we can stay that way,” she said. “But we will continue to monitor the situation and work with the health department. It’s not just the school stats that are considered, but also the community profile.”
Pittser also announced the “State of the District” address will be prerecorded this year and released on the Miami Trace website at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, which is also the date of the next board of education meeting.
“We hope to return to an in-person State of the District address next year,” said Pittser.
Look for more information on Monday’s meeting in an upcoming edition and on the Record-Herald website.
Reach Editor Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.