By ANANDA coleman
• Leader & Times
USD 480 Board President Reid Petty and Superintendent Lance Stout started Tuesday’s board meeting off on a deliberately positive note.
In a written statement that noted the past month’s newspaper stories, letters to the editor and talk around the community, the two acknowledged disagreement concerning the ‘Future Needs Program,’ proposed by Stout in February and passed last month.
Stout and Petty shook hands at the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting, in a public show of their newfound resolution to discontinue the tension.
“While we may agree to disagree on the plan,” Stout and Petty said in the dual statement, distributed to the press by USD 480 Director of Human Resources Paul Larkin, “We feel that it is in the best interest of the district for us to put our differences aside. We want to move forward so we can continue working hard to serve our students and our community.”
The public announcement wasn’t spontaneous. This was something they had to discuss and resolve.
“We had a very productive private meeting this past Friday in which we talked about our differences, expressed apologies for any hurt feelings, and agreed to move forward,” the statement explained.
Apparently, Friday’s private meeting didn’t simply prove an environment for apologies and resolution. Business other than feelings was attended to as well. According to Stout and Petty, the meeting was mainly about what was best for the district.
“We also discussed and will continue to study all cost savings measures – as a result of projected budget cuts (specifically the previously projected $1.2 million budget cut from the state) – that will best serve all USD 480 students and staff as well as our community as we move forward into the future,” they said.
Tuesday night’s event was markedly different from past, high-tension meetings. However, neither Petty nor Stout expect one-mindedness right off the bat.
“We may disagree at times on what steps should be taken to better the district,” Stout and Petty noted, “But we want to assure the community that we both respect and support each other and have the best interest of USD 480 at heart.”
Also at the meeting:
o Two items were struck from the agenda. One, originally proposed by board member Tammy Sutherland-Abbott, suggested a radius be set for teacher recruitment trips. The other was a resolution proposed by board member Dan Diepenbrock, distancing the board as a whole from public statements made by individual board members.
o The board voted 6-1 (Diepenbrock, Sutherland-Abbott, Jim Jury, Stacy Johnson, Cheryl Louderback and Nick Hatcher in favor, Petty opposed) to add Rosetta Stone Language Learning software at South Middle School as a new method of parent-child interaction with the school.