Now is not the time for Travis Haire. However, now is the opportunity. A wise man understands that success is the result when preparation intersects with opportunity. Many local parties of interest thought of Travis Haire as not only the logical choice, but also the best for interim superintendent at Greater Clark County Schools He has been involved in many layers of administration. He recently obtained his EDS — known in local jargon as his superintendent’s license. He was familiar with the many ongoing programs in the system.

Experience includes school building projects, the one-on-one computer initiative in Charlestown, the budget and fiscal crisis, and the process of hiring a new permanent superintendent. He points out this is not under his jurisdiction, rather under the board of trustees duties.

“That’s probably the most important job they will ever perform as board members,” he said.

For Haire, previous superintendent experience is not on his resume and neither is a doctorate degree, which he is strategically planning for in the future during any rare idle moments of thought. I’m guessing that must come either very late at night or very early in the morning.

“I’m still trying to decide if it’s better to be a “lame duck” superintendent or an interim,” Haire said.

Haire knows full well his interim stint is not the normal experience. This is no time for a caretaker in that chair for the Greater Clark system. He has approached the job “like I will be there forever.” He has spent many hours with school board trustee Missy DeArk, a C.P.A., in trying to understand all the numbers.

“What she said was the truth,” Haire said, referencing how she expressed some reservations when the board voted citing lack of experience with budgets.

However, what he lacks in experience, he is trying to more than make up for with hard work and as a quick learner.

Haire thinks “building level experience” is much different than his current temporary position.

“I don’t mean politics in a negative way,” he stressed.

He understands that with the board, he is dealing with seven politicians from different constituencies. Still, he is not just treading water. Haire is trying to initiate better relations between his office and the Greater Clark Education Association and its president, Nick Wiese. He recently met with a parent advisory group to get suggestions for needed improvements from their stand point.

“I want parents willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved,” he said.

In lieu of an evaluation of principals — which he felt his short stint might not warrant — because of the parent’s group’s suggestions, he assigned each of the principals a goal of devising a plan for better principal-to-parent communication.

He also would like to see a 5-year strategic plan by the school board, something which I know from his predecessor that certain board members oppose. Haire thinks such a plan would address such things as “facilities, strategies, academic goals ... ” and would assign some measure of accountability by which the board’s actions could be measured. He also thinks the board should execute a belated equity and diversity audit — not because it is a requirement, rather because “it is the right thing to do.”

As for the decision to hire Lisa Stemler as an assistant in the Jeffersonville High School athletic department, that was in the works since before he was named as interim. This is not a high-salary new position and does not affect Stemler’s daytime job as a full-time teacher — with funds coming from discretionary funds at the high school and not from the corporation’s budget. He is hopeful that previous problems can be resolved with this decision. Haire says that should be what everyone wanted: “What’s best for the kids.”

Some kids dream of becoming a policeman or fireman. He told me with a straight-faced, sincere look that when he was at Eastlawn Elementary, he remembers the report cards being sent home in that little brown jacket cover and seeing the name of the superintendent stamped on the outside. Even then, he sensed that was an important person and wanted to know more about that career.

“I knew I wanted to be that person,” Haire said.

Haire is affable, friendly, and has a non-threatening and engaging personality. He exudes a sense of who he is without pretentiousness or arrogance. His enthusiasm and exuberance at the possibilities for the Greater Clark system are evident.

“I am a product of this system. I believe in GCCS schools,” he explained.

His wife, Cristie, is an elementary school teacher in Charlestown. “My kid goes to school here,” he added. If you really want to see his face light up, ask him about his daughter, Victoria.

In a perfect world scenario, the new superintendent will be hired in June. Haire’s immediate plans are to return to his previous post as director of student services. He is young, 38, and knows his time will come. His ambitions accompany a plan to be fully ready when his time does — and will — arrive.

The goal of his tenure is simply stated and on no way critical of his predecessor: “I want to leave the system in a better shape than I found it.”

Lindon Dodd is an Otisco resident who is a freelance writer and can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com.

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