Archive for Thursday, February 13, 2003

Zoellner a good choice for superintendent

February 13, 2003

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education should be applauded for its decision to promote Sharon Zoellner as the successor to retiring superintendent Marilyn Layman. In a time that school funding is under threat by state budget cuts and in a district perpetually forced to float ever-more expensive bond issues, the need of a superintendent with mastery of budget and finance issues is obvious. Few come more highly qualified in this regard than Zoellner. Her knowledge of school finance has placed her among the perceived experts who are called on to testify in Topeka and has earned her a place of respect among fellow education professionals and policy makers.

We have no problem with the Board's decision to hire from within. Zoellner was obviously being groomed somewhat to become a superintendent. The Board should expect to cash in its investment in Zoellner's professional development. With recent superintendent openings in the area in which she would have been considering, we suspect Zoellner also demonstrated loyalty to the district.

The fear one hears expressed is that the time Zoellner spent gaining her financial wizardry hurt her growth on the human side of the job. It is said she doesn't possess Layman's charm and charisma. Few do. Still, we would suggest she has experienced significant professional growth in the 10 years she spent in the USD 232 administrative offices. We offer as evidence the confidence and clarity with which she regularly addresses the Board on complicated issues and her willingness to give time and energy to answer constituent questions.

Zoellner's promotion does leave a hole in the district's administration. That opening will allow the Board to fill the positions with someone who compliments Zoellner's strengths and weaknesses. As Zoellner has proven for more than a decade, good team players create success.

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