Valpo school superintendent fields questions as finalist for downstate job
BY JEROD CLAPP (Jeffersonville) News and Tribune June 7, 2012 10:18PM
Valparaiso community schools superintendet Andrew Melin was introduced as the finalist for the position of superintendent for Greater Clark County Schools during a public forum in Jeffersonville Thursday June 7, 2012. | C.E. Branham~News and Tribune
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:15AM
JEFFERSONVILLE —Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Andrew Melin addressed questions from community members at a public forum in downstate Jeffersonville on Thursday night as a finalist for the superintendent position in the Greater Clark County Schools district.
Questions were submitted online, not asked by community members at the forum, but before the questions began, Melin addressed concerns raised in an audit in Valparaiso.
He said he had worked with a chief financial officer who had been with the Valparaiso district for several years in the first year of Melin’s tenure. From there, he told the audience, he hired someone who helped him fill in procedural and policy gaps to make sure everything done in the district used the best practices.
Many of the problems raised in that audit had to do with record-keeping problems, he said, and having built-in checks and balances with the district’s policies.
Melin was also asked about why two other administrators in his district left their jobs earlier in the year. He said both of those people took superintendent jobs elsewhere in the state.
“They made decisions just like I’m making a decision that we’re looking at other opportunities that we’re better suited for,” Melin said.
One question submitted by a community member asked how he would approach academics in Greater Clark.
Melin said he wanted to make sure Greater Clark continued to move upward in its achievement, but also introduce ideas that would help more students get individualized instruction if they’re not doing as well as they could.
But he said identifying low-achieving students and high-achieving students wasn’t the only concern. He said students who are good performers, but neither at the top nor the bottom, also need to be recognized in that approach.
“It’s as critical that we, in terms of our differentiating our structure and practice, that we are doing the best we can to meet needs of kids,” Melin said. “And that’s not easy and it’s not going to look the same every day. But those are things we need to continue to talk about. ...”
Though he answered a lot of questions about his approach to education, he also answered budget-related questions and how he handled state cuts in Valparaiso.
He said the board tried to keep cuts as far away from people as possible and had some success, but he said with 94 percent of the district’s general fund paying employees, it was impossible to keep from getting people involved in the equation.
He said he had employee groups like secretaries who approached him about working fewer days and helped spread those kinds of cuts across the board, rather than just in one area.
He also said they were able to make cost-savings in supplies for the district.
One question submitted by a community member asked him why he’s leaving his district in the middle of his contract.
“I have a vested interest in the school corporation, I have a vested interest in the community,” Melin said. “I think that’s one of the things you’ll see from me, you’ll see me in the community a great deal, you’ll see us in the schools a great deal.”
He also said that his commitment to Greater Clark went beyond the job. He said he wanted to go somewhere he could see all three of his children graduate.