AW Board Members Depart With Nearly 23 Years Of Experience

Exiting the Anthony Wayne Board of Education with nearly 23 years of collective experience are (from left) Jayna Gwin, Troy Lutz and Pam Brint. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Serving on the Anthony Wayne Board of Education the past three years has been anything but ordinary, with the pandemic, two appointments to the board following members leaving the district and an unprecedented 12 candidates running for four seats.

Two of the three exiting board members shared their thoughts on how serving changed their perspectives.

Before joining the Anthony Wayne Board of Education in 2008, Pam Brint had a different perspective on school decisions.

“My view was as a parent and a volunteer, so I saw how school decisions affected my kids,” said Brint, who had attended board meetings for 15 years before running for office. “After being a board member, my perspective became much more broad. I see how schools are a very complex business. There are many more pieces to a school system that the community does not fully see.”

As a new school board member, she learned quickly that she needed to take time to ask questions, read any available information, attend training and listen to staff, students, parents and community members. While some decisions are determined locally, most are mandated by the state and federal government. 

“The district employs professionally trained and licensed personnel that develop the processes. The role of the board is to confirm that this aligns with the board policies, law and the interest of students, staff, parents and community,” Brint said, noting that the board does not get involved in daily operations or decisions.

Brint also learned that some decisions would be unpopular. This was evident especially in the last four years, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Having to make decisions during a health crisis was scary. I felt it was important to follow the requirements and guidance of the public health and emergency systems in place,” she said. “The work that the administration and staff accomplished during this time was unbelievable, but the community res-ponse was unexpected.”

She noted that while a small group has been very vocal in expressing their opinions, over 65 percent of residents in the district have no direct ties to the schools, so it’s important to find ways to connect and communicate with that broader audience.

During her 16 years, Brint said she’s worked with two superintendents, four assistant superintendents, 11 different board members and one treasurer. She also noted several milestones, including a new Whitehouse Primary School, new classroom space and improved safety and security in each building. The board also approved the purchase of land to prepare the district for the future and developed a strategic plan with input from the community – as a guidebook to the future.

“Seeing the kindergarten students entering their school journey and then seeing them walk across the stage at graduation is the perfect example that Anthony Wayne Schools is creating future-ready young adults,” she said. “On a personal level, a proud moment for me was handing my daughter her diploma at graduation.”

As she exits the board, Brint said she plans to stay involved in the schools, volunteering in her grandchildren’s classrooms and serving the students in the community.

While Troy Lutz served just 2-1/2 years, it was enough time to learn about the complexity of the school district, budgets, the process of making changes and the importance of listening to the community.

“It was a little different than what I expected. I thought it would be even more focused on district performance, curriculum, budgeting and future planning,” he said. “These topics received attention, of course, but there is a lot more to it than that.”

Lutz said he believes the district did a good job of managing through the pandemic, with a focus on keeping kids in school as much as possible. Post-pandemic, the focus was on stemming the learning loss by using federal funding as intended.

“Knowing what we know now, I’m sure we’d do some things differently today, but we managed through what I hope is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I think we did pretty well,” he said.

The community doesn’t often see the work and attention that go into being a board member outside of the public meetings, Lutz said. The time spent answering questions, reading material and reviewing information and data adds up to far more hours than those spent in meetings.

“I would tell a newcomer to listen and hear both sides of every situation. It’s too easy to jump to conclusions before all the facts are known,” he said.

As he exits the board, Lutz said he remains open to other forms of community service.

“I think it’s important that we all give back to our communities. It matters,” he said.

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