Editorials

School district’s Santa Claus needs teachers to believe in him

Nashville High School Superintendent Ernie Fowler sees himself as Santa or Christ, but maybe to fix relations with teachers he needs to see himself as the people skills guy.
Nashville High School Superintendent Ernie Fowler sees himself as Santa or Christ, but maybe to fix relations with teachers he needs to see himself as the people skills guy. Provided

Nashville High School Superintendent Ernie Fowler apparently has some communication issues.

He lost the confidence of most of his teachers’ union. Then he compared himself to Jesus Christ and Santa Claus when defending himself in an opinion column.

It’s hard to take Santa seriously. There’s a clinical term for those who see themselves in the second role.

But despite those missteps, the union’s complaints seem minor and his explanations reasonable. This doesn’t seem like a pitchfork-and-torches kind of confrontation, so maybe confidence can be rebuilt.

Teachers are upset that they are not asked for their opinions or that their advice is not followed. Fowler said he follows advice when it is good for the whole district.

He is critiqued about spending money without justifying it with them, and for discouraging teachers from applying for grants. The school board countered with examples of Fowler saving money on a renovation project. He said the district cannot sustain grants for a year of start-up costs when the district would then shoulder a burden for another two to five years.

Being the boss means unpopular decisions. Advice that is given is not always taken. School finances in these very uncertain times call for a fiscally conservative bent.

Fowler spent seven years as superintendent in central Illinois before replacing Nashville’s retiring superintendent in 2015. That experience should be an asset to taxpayers and students.

Nine years as a superintendent means he should also have a clue about employee relations. Sounds like he needs to invest in some coffee and doughnuts.

It also sounds like he needs to make sure they are on his dime, not the district’s.

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