Elida board members say they will work together

January 9, 2013

ELIDA — Elida school board members publicly said Tuesday they want to and are committed to working together this year.

The commitment comes after a tension-filled December board meeting, where two members called for an end to Don Diglia’s tenure as superintendent.

At the end of the board’s organizational meeting Tuesday, Brenda Stocker asked the board to “commit to having a better 2013 and work together as a board.” All five said they would.

“It is one day at a time, one step at a time,” said Dennis Fricke, elected to another term as president Tuesday. “We all agree that we are going to move forward. Students need to come first. That is our bottom line. They are the No. 1 consideration of the board.”

Sally Ulrich was elected vice president at Tuesday’s meeting.

The meeting was the first since Brian Anders and Brad Settlage said Diglia needed to go and that a levy would never pass while he led the district. Diglia has a year and a half left in his current contract and has said he's not going anywhere. He also has the support of the other three board members.

Anders and Settlage criticized Diglia for not communicating well and said people in the community believe he treated some badly. Other board members credit Diglia with the district’s academic performance and high school building project.

The board’s recent evaluation of Diglia, obtained by The Lima News on Tuesday, shows that just one or two board members believed Diglia needed improvement on 18 of the 27 categories on the evaluation form. One or two members gave him an excellent rating on all but two of the categories. Board comments included a need to better communicate and get the board to work together as a team.

Settlage said it was important for he and Anders to voice their opinions, but now there is no option but to move forward. He said that different points of views should be expected on a diversified board.

“I don’t think it is a good thing or a bad thing. It is what the voters wanted,” he said. “I think there is nothing that we can’t work around. We all have the same goal. It is for the children and for the best of the community. We just have different paths and different views of how to get there.”

Anders, who has often been critical of Diglia and said opposing opinions are not welcome on the board, said he tried working with the others, adding that “communication needs to be a two-way street.” He said the only option is to work together. Diglia said he will continue “as he has always done” to communicate with the entire board.

Stocker said it is important for any board to get along, work together and communicate. It is also important for the public to know Elida’s board is willing to do so.

“I brought it up (publicly) so that we can communicate with our community that we are moving forward,” she said.

Anders and Settlage both voted last month against going back to voters in May. An earned income tax failed in November. The May attempt will be a property tax request.

The board is expected to take the final vote needed for the ballot issue at next Tuesday’s regular board meeting. The board meets at 7 p.m. at the high school. Reductions are also expected to be discussed. Anders and Settlage have said more administrative cuts are possible than are being proposed.

Don Diglia, Elida schools superintendent