For me, the learning curve was great. I came into this position relatively unaware of how a school districts operates, which means that I had to quickly educate myself on the Ohio Revised Code, Sunshine Laws and the legislative side of education. One of the greatest challenges an urban district faces is the many bargaining units, i.e. unions. DPS has at least eight. If you have a desire to become a school board member, you best acquaint yourself with the above as well as litigation, trial law and definitely brush up on finances. Not only did I have to be a quick study, but I was thrust into the Presidency and the responsibilities that came with that role.
Of the many challenges we faced, none were more serious than the threat of academic takeover. With an intentional effort to enhance the curriculum and to concentrate on truancy, we were able to avert the takeover. But there were other challenges, too: sports-related, financial, internal and external battles, transportation, staff turnover, and finally, COVID. The one thing you can be sure of is that there will always be more challenges for an urban district to face. Being a school board member is not for the faint at heart. The decisions that a board member directly impacts families and the community.
I want to first thank the many colleagues with whom I have had the privilege to serve. It has been a pleasure striving to do what’s best for our children. Secondly, I want to acknowledge the many committed and dedicated employees of DPS, from the custodians, to the bus drivers, to the paraprofessionals, to the bargaining units, the administrators, the teachers, the nutrition staff, the SRO’s, principals, assistant principles, coaches, nurses, and most of all: our precious students and families. Last, but not least, I want to acknowledge the capable leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Lolli. It has been a pleasure to witness your unwavering dedication to the task of educating young people.
Dr. William E. Harris, Jr. has served on the Dayton Board of Education since 2018. He did not run again this year.