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Editorial: Board botched supt. situation

July 03, 2010

When Burbank Unified Supt. Kevin Jolly announced his resignation six months after taking the job, it was, despite all the finger pointing, as much of a reflection of him as it was the stakeholders he had to work with.

The teachers union, the parents, and, above all, the school board each had a hand in the short shelf life of a chief executive who, by most accounts, was too much to handle.

When Burbank Unified broke the 800 mark on the Academic Performance Index, the standardized testing benchmark, it was considered a major improvement. But Jolly introduced newer, higher goals. Teachers complained that he was out of touch with what was feasible, others complained of his reader recognition program, while school board members essentially threw him under the bus.

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Shortly after he announced his resignation in December, school board members said Jolly had all the right attributes and had "passion, energy and progressive ideas."

But, as President Dave Kemp said, "Sometimes it works great, and sometimes it doesn't."

More like, "Sometimes a school board backs its chief executive in pushing the district, and sometimes they lack the political will and cave in."

A lot of the discourse surrounding the arrival of Jolly's replacement, outgoing Visalia Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa, has revolved around paying close attention to existing culture and practices, or maintaining relationships. This is known as the status quo.

This will be the second chief executive hire by the school board in a year's time. To put a fine point on it, Carrizosa's success or failure will be as much of a referendum on him as it will be on the school board's ability to make prudent leadership decisions. As the revolving door begins its new turn, we must wonder whether it's the people walking through it, or the people controlling it.

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