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Dr. Johns considers the source

Apparently Nick Johns isn't one to hold a grudge.

On March 30, the superintendent of the Liverpool Central School District addressed the monthly luncheon meeting of the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. His topic was teamwork.

"You've got to look at a school as a system," he said, reflecting on his years at the helm of school districts from Iowa to Michigan to downstate New York. "You've got to coordinate your efforts. I mean K through 12th grade is a kid's career. For him or her to succeed in their scholastic career we've all got to work together. We've got to be a team."

So after the meeting, I asked Dr. Johns how the LCSD can continue to work as a team after the Liverpool Administrators Association issued a rather mean-spirited letter of no-confidence in the superintendent.

On Feb. 11, the LAA-which represents about three dozen principals and administrative staffers here-criticized Johns for creating "a working climate of fear, trepidation and vindictiveness."

Johns simply shrugged off the harsh words. He considered their source.

"That union has a tough contract coming up," Johns said. One issue that will be contentious, he predicted, will be a no-layoff clause.

"The bottom line is that we could not afford to staff the administrative ranks the way we have in the past," Johns said.

The LAA's swipe at the superintendent sure seemed pretty personal, but Johns refused to take it that way. Instead, he expressed admiration for the principals as individuals. They're all sincerely dedicated to the cause of education here, he said.

"They recently developed plans for student achievement at each school," Johns said, "and all of the principals had goals that really stretched their horizons, ideas about how tomorrow can be better than today."

One thing that Johns desperately wants to see improved is the high-school graduation rate.

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