There’s no way to put a positive spin on the news that J.T. Coopman is retiring at the end of December as superintendent of the Monroe County Community School Corp.
It means the MCCSC school board will be naming its fifth superintendent in five years – probably an interim superintendent to fill in while the board searches for a longer-term leader. Potential candidates would have to think twice about jumping to such an unstable situation.
Coopman, 59, told the Bloomington Herald-Times (subscription required) he was “absolutely worn out” after a stressful period that included his wife’s ongoing battle with cancer, $5.8 million in MCCSC budget cuts and a hurried funding referendum for the district.
“There’s only so many fights in a dog. And this old dog doesn’t have many fights left,” he said.
Was he also exhausted by a school board that was overly involved in every decision? He told the H-T that board members’ hearts were in the right place, but “I can’t say we always are on the same page.”
Bloomington has long been a tough town for school administrators, however. The MCCSC has had nine superintendents, counting a pair of interim leaders, in the past 25 years.
Coopman made a positive mark in his 18 months. He led the campaign for the $7.5 million-per-year referendum, which voters approved 61-39 percent. He hired effective curriculum and instruction leaders, embraced literacy initiatives and committed the district to the Professional Learning Communities approach to school improvement.
Now it will be up to someone else to carry it on.
Putting the public in public schools
A Herald-Times editorial on Saturday made some valid and important points about the future of the MCCSC, then veered into a questionable direction.
It called for greater openness in MCCSC spending decisions, specifically decisions about how to use referendum-generated revenue. “The public must be included and involved in the district as it moves forward,” it said. “The school board must be more inclusive and transparent in its business, and same goes for the teachers’ union.”
Amen to that.
But just who is the public? The editorial suggested an MCCSC spending oversight panel with representatives from local elites: city and county councils, Ivy Tech Bloomington, IU’s School of Education and Kelley School of Business, Chamber of Commerce, Bloomington Economic Development Corp. and local banks.
Local banks? Really?
If we’re going to get that specific, surely there can be room on this panel for students and parents, the people with the most immediate stake in public education.