Evergreen Local Schools are losing a second administrator with the end of the school year. Superintendent Jim Wyse will begin duties as the superintendent of the Millcreek-West Unity school district Aug. 1.
The Evergreen Board of Education has already begun conducting interviews for his replacement. A decision should be made by the first of July.
Wyse follows Josh Clark, who resigned as Evergreen High School principal to take a position with the Northwest Ohio Education Service Center. Clark has been replaced with Daniel Curtis, whom the school board offered a two-year contract effective Aug. 1.
A former counselor for the Millcreek-West Unity school district, Wyse, 59, was hired May 21 to oversee the district’s Hilltop schools. His decision was based on his familiarity with the district and its proximity to his rural Stryker home. But Wyse said it’s bittersweet to leave Evergreen schools after nine years.
“I love the district,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of great things for kids. But I’m in a position to step aside now and let someone else take the reins.”
Wyse said a school superintendent’s duties have changed during his tenure at Evergreen schools. He’s witnessed many more state mandates and requirements for school districts.
“Mandates have created a lot more tasks that are time sensitive, and it’s difficult to meet all the deadlines now,” he said. “It takes time away from your other duties. You come in early, and stay late to catch up. That’s the reality of the job.”
Due to state regulations, even teacher evaluations have become cumbersome, Wyse said.
“It’s a lot of time spent on that task. It’s always good to evaluate employees…but it takes a lot of time away from the kids,” he said. “Support for public education has declined, and I believe a lot of that has to do with lack of support from the state level.”
Wyse also believes the amount of state testing must be reduced. “It takes away a lot of time for instruction, the amount of time you expend for state-navigated tests. And too much weight is placed on one particular test on a particular day for a particular student. It may not be a true reflection of a student’s abilities or knowledge.”
That can be especially true when testing is given online, especially for younger students not quite adept at computer usage, Wyse said. “It can be more a test of their computer skills than knowledge. That online test can become a stumbling block to what they do,” he said.
He also noted less financial support from the state and more reliance on local community members to foot the bill. “The state can reduce their deficit by making cuts at the local level, and the cities and townships and school districts have felt that impact,” Wyse said. “It’s always going to be a battle to supply public education.”
Public education is supported in most northwest Ohio school districts, but in larger urban areas the focus surrounds charter schools, he said.
Evergreen schools are financially sound, Wyse said, “but as this new budget comes out, you never know what kind of cuts you’ll have at the state level. (And) I think it’s always hard to sell an increase in taxes to anybody. Passing a levy for operating expenses is something you don’t want to do, but when cuts are coming from the state you have no choice.”
Under that circumstance, however, “The Evergreen community has always been very supportive,” he said.
During his 37 years as an educator, Wyse has seen little if any change in children. The parents are another story.
“I think parenting has changed, where it used to be parents were more supportive,” he said. “Now it’s more what did the students do wrong as opposed to what the teachers did wrong. Parents are more apt to listen to their child.”
As for assimilating with the current administration at Millcreek-West Unity, Wyse isn’t concerned.
“You’ve got to live your life looking forward, not backward,” he said. “You learn how to work with people at a different level. Hopefully, my experience will help me develop good working relationships. That’s 90 percent of the challenge to be an effective superintendent.”
Nora Kiefer, Evergreen’s school board president, said Wyse has been a great asset to the district. “We’re lucky to have had him,” she said. “He set a high standard for excellence. The kids always come first. That’s Jim in a nutshell.”
Kiefer added, “He’ll always be a Viking, I know that.”
A Stryker High School graduate, Wyse credits his teachers Dan Kline and Ralph Ruffer with influencing his career in education. “They had a big impact on my life,” he said.
His new position may also be his last before retirement, Wyse said. For now, his attention remains squarely on the students of Millcreek-West Unity.
“You want to provide them with better opportunities tomorrow than they have today,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.