School superintendents are among the highest publicly paid employees in our community.
They are responsible for the important business of educating our children, and must handle all that comes along with being a top employer. The sheer number of moving parts and programs as well as funding changes and issues at the state level make this a high-pressure position.
We asked all three of our local superintendents – whose salaries range from $120,964 to $174,806 – to share their perspectives on school district successes and challenges.
Keith Konarska from Grand Haven, Dennis Furton from Spring Lake and Bob Szymoniak from Fruitport each answered questions about their districts. Here's what they had to say:
Q: What is the biggest challenge your school district faces?
Konarska: “Without a doubt the greatest challenge moving forward is looking for ways to maintain a full continuum of service for our students despite being funded at pre-2005-06 levels.”
Furton: “Balancing our needs with financial realities is challenging.”
Szymoniak: “The biggest challenge we face is inadequate school funding. The labor force we employ costs as much or more today than in recent history, but funding levels are back at 2005-06 levels.”
Q: What are the issues that keep you up at night?
Konarska: “Funding certainly tops the list. This continued threat to our quality programs keeps me up at night.”
Furton: “Right now, it would be the budget, but it could also be the bond planning.”
Szymoniak: “The issues that keep me up include inadequate funding, as just mentioned, but also the fact that our Legislature is not well informed on school matters.”
Q: What is the easiest thing to manage as a superintendent?
Konarska: “I am really not sure if there is anything that I would call easy about this role, but I will say one of my greatest joys is observing the many gifts and talents our students bring through the door each day.”
Furton: “Everything other than my personal schedule.”
Szymoniak: “I would say I really don't consider anything to be easier to manage than the rest. Everything I do is connected in some way to everything else. I love it all.”
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.