Depending on how you look at it, the Camp Verde School District has had either a school board problem … or a superintendent problem.
Either way, the district has had difficulty in creating a stable administrative environment for its school system because of a revolving door of administrators.
Since the retirement of the highly respected and much-loved former CVUSD Superintendent Phillip England in 1999, Camp Verde has run through 9 superintendents in 19 years. That includes the new man at the top of the pecking order, Danny Howe, who has yet to earn the title “superintendent” as the school board has put him in the position with the diluted title of “administrator in charge.”
Given the district’s volatile history with job retention in the superintendent’s office, the move to place Mr. Howe in this position is encouraging.
First of all, Mr. Howe knows Camp Verde and Camp Verde knows him.
Second, he knows the Camp Verde school system as well as anyone, as he has 27 years of experience with the district, including the past 8 years as Camp Verde’s Middle School principal.
Finally, by going within to fill this position, Camp Verde has put a halt to a system that obviously was not working for the school board. The pattern of working with the Arizona School Boards’ Association and conducting national searches only created a revolving door of leadership for the district.
It’s often said that the best organizations – be it in government or the private sector – are those that create a business environment of succession training to groom people to immediately step into positions of leadership when another person decides to step out of that position. It creates a seamless transition of leadership. Employees have a sense of security in knowing they are working for someone they know, and knows them. Further, in increases employee morale by creating an awareness that you are not only becoming a master of your own job, but you are being taught your boss’ job as well.
Locally, there are two government agencies in which this philosophy has served the Verde Valley quite well. In Cottonwood, the city has had only three city managers in the past three decades and they all were groomed and promoted from within and have provided the city with sound, stable, dependable leadership.
Ditto for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District. The Tavasci-Larson-U’Ren-King administrative lineage has served the community exceptionally well.
For Camp Verde, the hope is that the choice to promote from within will put an end to the revolving door of leadership that has plagued the school district.
The challenge now facing the Camp Verde School Board is to decide if it wants to send the message to the community and school staff that it is going to stand behind and support Mr. Howe.
The first step in that process is to quit sitting on the fence and give him the appropriate title for the job he is now performing.
If Mr. Howe is going to perform the duties of superintendent for CVUSD, then give him the title.
And the support he needs to do the job.