To The Herald-Whig:
I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to write this letter of support for the QPS tax referendum.
My perspective is somewhat unique in that it provides both an insider and outsider's view relative to the need for a referendum
My "insider" perspective comes from experiences as a Quincy College student, where I student taught in Mrs. Bush's kindergarten classroom at Berrian School, as teacher at St. Mary and Chaddock Boys School, principal of St. Anthony de Padua, third grade at Irving School and interim Quincy superintendent in the fall of 2012 and 2015.
The "outsider" perspective came after leaving for employment in two other LUDA (Large Unit District Association) districts, Champaign as high school dean, elementary principal and assistant superintendent, and Moline as superintendent for 11 years and past president of LUDA.
Back in the 1970s, Quincy was recognized as a ‘lighthouse" district because of cutting-edge initiatives, student achievement, highly professional administration and staff, and the Quincy Conference. We all wanted to work here and be a part of the innovative things that were happening. Since then, I have witnessed a slow, steady decline. There were, and continue to be, factors that contribute to the decline, many of which the district has little to no control. Nonetheless, the staff has done a creditable job meeting students' needs, but is limited by the lack of resources and staff to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving educational environment.
At the end of each term as interim superintendent, I presented a "State of the Schools" address to the board highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. What stood out in both was the disparity between what Quincy and other LUDA districts were able to spend to meet the educational needs of students. In both cases, Quincy was at or near the bottom in expenditures per student. I have witnessed the effects of these disparities and can tell you that they are real. Quincy students are every bit as talented as those from other districts and deserve the resources and highly qualified staff to prove it. I also believe Quincy has the leadership, both at the superintendent and board level, to make good on its commitments to the community. I ask that you take a moment to study the data and comparisons to LUDA and area districts, ask questions and vote. Strong schools build strong communities. Quincy deserves both.
Dr. Cal Lee