Dayton School Board picks new president after tumultuous year

Dayton school board members chose Robert Walker as board president for 2017 at their annual organization meeting to start the year.

Walker was president of Dayton’s board of education through the tumultuous 2014 and 2015 years, when the state first told Dayton Public Schools they were at risk of state takeover.

Walker and Joe Lacey, DPS’ longest serving board member, were the primary two who expressed their interest in the board president role. John McManus said he would step up only if neither of the other two got the necessary votes. But Walker was nominated by Ron Lee, seconded by Hazel Rountree and approved by a 6-1 vote, with only Sheila Taylor voting no.

Walker often takes a humble approach and urges collaboration, and Tuesday was no different.

“I submitted my name as president, not for the position … but as a commitment to this board and to this community, to say that, as feeble sometimes as my leadership is, it’s the best I have to offer. And I will continue to offer the best that I have,” Walker said.

Rountree was voted in as vice president by the same 6-1 vote after being nominated by Walker. Again, Lacey was the other board member expressing interest, and again Taylor was the only “no” vote.

Multiple board members thanked Adil Baguirov for his leadership as board president in 2016, which was an incredibly full year for the district. In February, DPS was worst in the state on the 2014-15 report card and the board voted to oust Superintendent Lori Ward and Treasurer Craig Jones.

The ups and downs were many. DPS saw its preschools earn the state’s top rating in April, then had a young student stabbed on a playground in May. They had a bad levy misunderstanding with the city in July, then were able to launch a huge new student computer program in August. Their state report card grades in September ended the threat of state takeover, but by October they had begun a painful, confusing layoff process.

Walker said academic achievement has to be the No. 1 goal, and he wants to re-establish trust with the community.

“It’s important for us to move ahead with a collective image of leadership,” he said. “So that when the community looks at this Dayton school board, they … will see seven individuals who have put their individual agendas aside for the students within this Dayton Public School district, to work for their common interest.”

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