Sunday, July 17, 2011

Guest Post From GCS BOE Member Rev. Joe Payne

The verbal arrows have sure been flying…

“Quit micromanaging!”
“What a stupid decision!”
“This board never does anything right.”
“How could you do such a thing during a building campaign?!”
“We need to replace the whole BOE!”

I was hoping the arrows would begin to subside. After all, body armor is hot in the summertime. However, just this Sunday morning a few of my parishioners greeted me with sly smiles and said, “Nice Cartoon!”
“What cartoon?” I asked.

“You know, the Ackley cartoon in the Advocate. You’re in a dunce cap!”

Hahaha. Oh well… In a way, I feel strangely flattered to be included in a genuine Ackley editorial cartoon. The man is talented, you know. And besides, it’s freedom of expression that makes this the great country it is. It’s the American Way. I especially appreciate those who write or speak to me personally. I’ve received an earful these past couple of weeks, but I do appreciate it.

You also need to hear from me, which is why I am writing you today. You may be thinking, “It’s about time.” Others will probably knock anything that I write. Again that’s OK. But hear this: I write for myself only. Please accept these words as one board member’s honest attempt at communicating with the citizens of the Greenville City School District.

The recent decision by myself and three of my colleagues to not renew the basketball coaches’ supplemental contracts has raised some good legitimate questions.

Was our decision justified?

That’s at least part of the debate, isn’t it? I know there are many who believe that it was not. On the other hand, there have been a surprising number who agree with the decision. Regardless, whatever decision I have made in the past or plan to make in the future, I want you to know I do it for the children and youth of this school district as a whole.

This is not fun. I am not in this for some sort of ego trip. I can think of better “trips” than this one. I also respect the other members of the school board because I believe they are serving for the right reasons. They care about the kids. They care about the school.

"But, wasn’t this decision made behind closed doors?"

No. All votes are made openly. TJ and Susie were present, and there was dialogue around these issues two months ago. At the same time, I regret not having proper dialogue with TJ and Susie that morning. No excuses, Period. Have I learned from this experience? I sure have.

"Is this yet another example of micro-management?"

No, I don’t believe so.

The BOE abides by the Greenville City Schools Board of Education Policy Manual (a PDF of the manual may be found on the GCS website, on the Board of Education page). [Editor's Note: Find the manual by clicking here] Under File BBA, titled School Board Powers and Duties, a number of responsibilities of the BOE are listed, including Number 6, which states: [The BOE is] “to consider and pass upon or reject the recommendations of the Superintendent in all matters of policy, appointment or dismissal of employees, salary schedules or other personnel policies, courses of study, selection of textbooks or other matters pertaining to the welfare of the schools" (underline is mine). This right to consider, pass upon or reject anything that comes to a board of education from the superintendent establishes a built in “checks and balances” within the system. It’s a good policy.

Hiring the superintendent and treasurer as well as setting policy are primary functions of the Board. Another function includes considering, approving and rejecting recommendations. The Board, Susie, and other administrative staff may agree or disagree. At times we will approve. And, at times, we may reject. At the end of the day, we are still on the same team. I have a good working, trusting relationship with Susie, TJ, and other members of the staff, and that relationship continues today.

Now here is a question for you to consider:

The next time some matter is laid before your board, will you want them to make their decision based upon the most popular, least controversial choice? Or, would you rather we make the decision based upon what we believe to be best for our students? If political expediency is what you want, I will be the first to step aside and let someone else take my position.

Now, a very important question for all of us: Why should anyone trust the BOE about this upcoming capital campaign?

Because of this truth: I assure you that the decision to plan for the construction of a new K-8 building has been made through the input and decision-making of a 30 – 40 member body made up of different folks from around the district. The decision to bring on this team was itself a team decision made by the board, superintendent, treasurer and other staff. These citizens come from a cross section of almost every voting precinct, and together we have come up with a plan that we believe to be the best for our kids and the most cost effective for our voting public.

To go against this plan because of any decisions made by the board would be like saying, “You are hurting my kids by your decision-making. Therefore, I am going to hurt the kids even more by voting NO on this campaign!"

Would someone please explain to me the logic in that?

The new K-8 is a good, solid plan. We need to get it passed. It’s that simple.

Call me crazy if you want, but despite the time involved, headaches and grief, I take pride in serving on this board! Serving on the Board of a $30 million business whose mission is to prepare our kids for future success is an honor, a privilege, and a huge responsibility. I am thankful to share this responsibility with you. I hope to help make a difference in the lives of the children and youth in this district. I also know that neither I, nor the four other members of the board, can do it alone. We are all in this together.

I am sure more decisions will be made, more “arrows” will be shot, and possibly more editorial cartoons will be drawn. And yet, ultimately I pray that the good citizens of the Greenville City Schools will realize all of us really are on the same team.


  1. Rev. Joe Payne,

    I thank you for spending your time on the BOE and looking out for kids who someday will run not only this town but perhaps this country.

    It is not a easy task, to take on multi-million dollar school district. The choices that were made 10 years ago need to be set aside. We have a City and School district to save. That is if we ever want to see Greenville shine like it once did. I am not going anywhere, while it shocks me that perhaps 75% of my 2010 class may never come back here and live it does not surprise me.

    Once again I thank you for the time you set aside with your busy schedule and focus on the big picture. You put the kids first and the district will always succeed regardless if this city does not pass the vote for the new school.

  2. You still do not address the reason the coaches were not renewed. More secrecy? You had a great chnce to discuss this with Rachel at the meeting and you said nothing. Say what you wish, this will effect the levy vote. You could have written a dozen pages of deflective "reasoning" but until you admit you simply went along with your two ringleaders and cowtowed to their wishes with your vote you are being dishonest. You have a gift of gab, I will give you that. Why did you vote the way you did? I think we all know who decided your vote. Judas got 30 pieces of silver. What did you get from Studebaker and Bowman for selling out the two fine young coaches Mr. Payne?

  3. Okay, that was nice writing, but what was the reason or reasons for dismissing the coaches? I think that is what everyone wants to know.

  4. Humph.... this article is a lot of hot air. I'm for the new school levy, I support the schools, and I support the students. I do NOT support this school board and the decisions that they make (and this comment has nothing to do with sports either). I still question being on the same "team" with this particular board.

  5. egg, what decisions do you disagree with that this board has made?

    I thank it's great that Mr. Payne is going out of his way to explain some things, even if he can't go into specifics on why the decision was made. I believe he had a certain amount of information that led him to make the decision he did, while had he more information, he may have thought otherwise.

    I'm less inclined to think 'conspiracy', or 'bribery' or anything secret, but most likely trusting individuals who you knew had first hand knowledge of the program and not giving thought to the fact that these people would simply be executing some grand master plan due to personal issues.

  6. I disagree with this school board in general policy and decision making process. I moved here from another area a few years back, and by comparison, I find this board to be very secretive and closed in all areas of decision making. It seems like they make an action, there is community outcry, then they must come out and try to make themselves look better by writing articles such as this. It just comes off as baloney. If you serve on a school board, you MUST keep as much as possible out in the open and involve your community every step of the way. True, you will make decisions that are not popular, but if everything is out on the table to begin with, you will find more understanding and support (at least that's how the area from which I came did it, and they were quite successful as a public school board).

    Like I said, I do support the new levy, I do support the school system itself because no matter how you slice it, a good school does make for a better community in the long run. I just do not like how this particular school board presents themselves publically. They can do better in dealing with the public and the administration.

  7. Give me a break. Payne is "going out of his way" to discuss his vote? He owes that to the district. He never did address why he voted the way he did. Obviously he was told to vote that way. We don't need puppets on the board. We need people we can trust to make the proper decisions, not vote to let good people go just because one of the board members has a kid who could not be a team player. Payne, why did you vote the way you did.

  8. This city/county is collapsing rapidly and everyone is worried about coaches???People get a life.Your precious children can survive without sports. And Mr Keaser is correct most kids will leave this town after graduation and since many reach the voting age while still in school, they will vote in a tax increase for all of us that remains. I have voted against every levy and will continue to do so until this system focuses more on education instead of new buildings and higher pay for the employees. I am a senior citizen and I should not have to pay for public "screwls" I don't use or have ever used just because I have the American dream of owning my own home. What the hell happened to all the lottery money??? More people now than ever are playing it, get your money somewhere else or do without. I have too, by the way, Alpo isn't bad if you season it right.

  9. egg -

    The main reason there is a perception of 'secret' is that no one attends the BOE meetings. They're all open to the public, but no one attends and no one talks about what is going on. that is, until a decision is made they don't agree with. Then they are up in arms and force the board to go out of their way to speak to their voting public with letters like this one.

    I still see no reason to believe that what happened was 2 board members placing their trust in the decision making of the other 2. Each member simply must do their own due diligence, especially on high profile decisions like who is running the athletic programs.

    I appreciate Joe making the attempt to speak out on as much as he can. I would much prefer someone trying to reach out and openly accept criticism and feedback than someone who makes a decision and then we hear nothing from. I hope joe continues to write articles throughout his time as a BOE member.

  10. My 2-cents worth:
    Why is it so difficult to explain the reasons behind letting the 2 coaches go?
    As far as sports in school, it probably keeps a lot of kids IN school. Just like our Carpentry program at the high school kept a lot of boys in school and gave them a viable trade. Ooops, that program was also dumped by the BOE and no reason was given for that decision either. the more I read and hear about our BOE, the less enthusiastic I am about passing a school levy.

  11. Does anyone remember that Rachel got her job when another coach was fired by the board with no reasons given? What goes around, comes around.

  12. Studebaker Payne and the other two are just doing what happens all the time in Greenville. They play "daddy ball". My kid plays or else! Greenville sports are known to have certain players play just because daddy has the right name. It happens other places as well but greenville has perfected the practice. I wish Payne had told us why he voted the way he did. Obviously he is not sure. I think we all know why.

  13. I'm like egg. I do support the schools and will continue to do so, but I can't stand the current school board on many levels. Those of you that think "The Rev" is reaching out are poorly mistaken.

  14. Anonymous

    July 18, 2011 12:03 PM

    Payne doesn't have kids in the school district anymore, get your facts straight before speaking! The last name thing doesn't work all the time either.

    I worked my rear-end off to start on Friday nights and start during baseball... One athlete with a last name does not make up a whole team. In fact, the last time I checked one individual does not make a team.

  15. 1:44 pm. Never said Payne had a kid in the system. We know Studebaker and Bowman did. Get your facts straight. Studebaker led this thing and he made sure Payne danced to his orders. Greenville will continue tostruggle because this board does not want the type of coache who will demand performance and discipline from their players. I think someone needed to tell daddy's girl last season that she needed to be a team player. Then daddy would not have had to get rid of the coach as retribution. Yeah, I'd trust a board with judgment like that to oversee a new school being built.

  16. we need to do like the state of IND they don't have a school don't matter who is on the board.because somebody never happy when things don't go the way they want kids went to greenville.and i wish they had a new i will support a new big as greenville is we should of voted for a new a long time ago.

  17. Well to be honest, I am just tired of this City overall. It is a headache and a pot of boiling water about to explode. Do you not realize there is always someone unhappy about something. It could be the the BOE, City Council, The Fair Board, and on Facebook one person continues to attack the mayor about issues that irrelevant to anything. There is something about the people in this town who feel they need be negative and then go back to hiding in their rock.

    excluding C4C and a few other groups and individuals. You know who you are and I commend you for what you all are doing.

    I am waiting for the day when eventually I can graduate from School and come back here. I want to DO something about all the crap I see. You know if you don't go to BOE meetings and City council meetings how are we as citizens ever able to keep them in check?! complaining on a BLOG site is by the far the least most powerful.

    You want to make a statement and you want to be heard. You go to the source at the meetings.

    That is my final 2 cents on this matter

    Everyone have a good day and stay cool!

  18. Terence: have you been to a BOE or city council meeting? Have you had conversations with the leaders about our school and our city? Seems the only thing that is useful for you is advertising free on the blogs and facebook... if you don't like what opinions and feelings are - then don't go to the websites. Everyone is entitled to thier opinion - should be one of the first things you learn: freedom of speech... if you don't like something - CHANGE IT - take charge - college or no college-- get involved... not just with business but with forming change. just my two cents worth!

  19. Enough People, Move on. all this fuss over 2 coaches not being renewed-Wow, No one seems to care that it happens everyday. Welcome to real world. Atleast they still have their other jobs,Get a life.

  20. So Joe, if these coaches names come in front of you again you will vote no again? We shall see.

  21. past supporter..future supporter??July 18, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    Mr Payne
    You are right people will agree and disagree. And you believe this is not micro managing, but I as I have previously voiced believe it is text book example. While correct it must come before you to approve or reject these matters, it is also the boards job to delegate authority for the administration of the schools to the superintendent and staff. Delagation means letting them do their job. If you say the board and Ms Riegle and Mr Powers had talks about this 2 months ago, then you as board members did not do your job very well giving them the direction you wanted to go. If you really think the boards direction was clear 2 months ago and they brought the 2 coaches to you for approval, then the board should be looking at new administrators.
    Right or wrong direction aside, the administrators and the board need to be heading in the SAME direction and this "incident" was the flash that shows all are not on the same page. You say at the end of the day, we (board and administrators) are on the same team, but how well does a team do when the running backs go the different direction the quarterback thinks they need to go... that offense goes backwards. There is a reason building administration should be done by the administration and not the board. The administrator is around the building everyday, and the board is who has a better handle on things? I say the one around it on the every day basis. To assume you know more is micro managing.
    And in response to you saying to explain the logic about voting no and hurting the kids more...well I don't think that is what people are thinking. I believe their logic is I don't agree with your descision making and I don't see any reason it will change, so why would I vote to give you more of my money?

  22. Is the baseball coach gone now too? Terrific

  23. Mr. Payne

    At first I questioned if is appropriate for you to make a posting as the board needs to have one spokesperson and be unified in decisions, once debated and action taken. Then I realized if you did not speak out only silence would exist. Thank you for efforts to interact.

    Past Support....Future Support? is on the right track, listen to them rather than debate.

    I fully concur that the actions of the board raise questions if the board has the decision making capabilities for the taxpayers to trust decisions that involve providing more funding. In this case a facilities request that appears to be greater than $60 million, based on published reports.

    Do we need school facilities? Yes. Is this the most appropriate and effective solution for our future needs? Not sure.

    Has the board consistently demonstrated well thought out and insightful decisions?

    This last one is the rub when going to vote in November to lay down our bets.

  24. I have heard thet Coach Albright has reapplied for the position. If he is approved and if Payne votes for him that is an admission that Payne was wrong and knew nothing about what he was voting on. That should be obvious anyway to anyone. Personal vendettas have no place on the boe. Time to change them all when we have an opportunity. Payne is supposedly a Rev. but I have still not heard or read anything honest from him about why he voted as he did. Payne and the other three have harmed the levy chances. Like it or not that is just a fact. Fair or not people will remember this when the levy is voted on. Rev. Payne will you be honest enough to please state the reason YOU voted as you did?

  25. Greenville Baseball Coach resigned prior to any of this happening. And i do not hear anyone talking about the coach that got fired for no reason so Rachel could be hired? And wasn't she basically hired because of the connection she has with Mrs Reigle and Mr Powers? so.. as a previous poster stated... what goes around comes around...... now move on with life...

  26. Are all of these anonymous people the same person or are there that many people afraid to say who they are? At this point, I don't believe I want to know why the coaches were fired. If the coaches know that is the only one who counts. Earlier I wrote a number of ways to take care of the problem and as I figured, no one got up a recall petition and it doesn't look like anyone has filed to run against Joe or Jim Sommer in the fall. So we'll have to wait and see just how mad everyone is and see if anyone shows up for tonight's board meeting.

  27. To Anon 10:33 What connection would that be?
    When she was hired 2 summers ago TJ was a
    Teacher at FM and not the athletic director. So your
    point seems a bit point-less

  28. Some people need to walk away while they are ahead. You know who is hurting getting a levy passed, Mrs. Kerns thats who. The same coach that told a few of her players to get online and post half truth. If you never been to a basketball game, dont guess. Because anyone that went to a game agrees with the Boe, unless your are one of Coach Kerns favorites.

  29. Joe Payne stated:

    But, wasn’t this decision made behind closed doors?"

    No. All votes are made openly. TJ and Susie were present, and there was dialogue around these issues two months ago. At the same time, I regret not having proper dialogue with TJ and Susie that morning. No excuses, Period. Have I learned from this experience? I sure have.

    Mr. Payne, I have looked and read the 2011 minutes to date and could not find anything related to this discussion except for a meeting the end of June when the contract amounts were listed. Would you be able to clarify the statement that you quoted above?

    I agree that we need new schools and that our children and grandchildren deserve that...Do I want to pay more taxes as a homeowner or a business? No, I don't, but as everything else that happens in our life, we make decisions based upon the need not the want! My problem with this situation at hand is that the board said "yes" before they thought through the process. You hired a supertindent and an Athletic Director to run the daily operations of the school. They deal with personnel on a day in day out basis unlike the board. Was their recommendation not good enough for the board - why or why not? I want to see a board of education that just doesn't sit back and say yes or no to everything that comes across the desk just because it is easy. Tough decisions are hard and must be dealt every day in our personal and professional lives, so we think through the process before making a decision.

    I will vote for the new school because it is a NEED and for my grandchildren, however, I have little faith left in our board after the "micro-managing" of our athletics in Greenville. I have faith in our administration that they will direct the teachers and admin to achieve greater heights and my advice to the board is to SUPPORT their decisions and think about your decisions before you speak.

    Thank you for allowing me the time to "vent" a little and want to end with, this is our community, our school and our home... we need to be accountable to it!

    Kathy Beam

  30. What's done is done. The decisions that have been made will come around to bite them. When re-election comes around there will be new blood running and I would put money on it that the current school board will no longer be in charge. I do not have children in Greenville Schools, however, I went there and have a hard time watching it go down the tubes. Yes, the board is there to make decisions and there will always be people unhappy with the decision made, but they are elected and are there to be the voice of the people. It appears that the people are not being represented. I may just have to run....we'll see....

  31. Boy, it seems everyone thinks they know what went on with the basketball coaches. But I don't remember seeing alot of people in the stands at the games.Maybe you should of watched a game and then gave your opinion. Cause last time I looked in the stands, very few were there or even cared. You all need to get your facts straight.Maybe you should be asking how Coach Kerns got her job, better yet ask Mr, Powers who handed him his job. Yep, Susie gave them both their jobs, now thats something to question don't you think. Brad

  32. To 5:31pm, I went to quite a few of the games and I do not agree with the board. I am also not a player, nor a parent of a player. I am also wondering what half truths you are speaking of... and to 7:59pm... maybe you need to get YOUR facts straight....... you make some issue that Susie gave them both their jobs???? Well she is the #1 administrator of the schools. It is her JOB to get an athletic director hired. So I'm going to question you. Whose responsibility should it be to hire athletic directors and coaches? Jeff

  33. 5:31 and 7:59 - I, also, went to almost every game and DO NOT agree with the BOE. Don't lump everyone together and say everyone who went to the games agrees. I believe the support shown to the coaches in the BOE meeting proves that. Not one person spoke out against the coaches. Everyone who spoke up was in SUPPORT of those coaches. You sound like an unhappy player or parent, perhaps, the player who didn't start every game. BOE WAS WRONG TO LET THESE COACHES GO!

  34. I've read all and appreciate all of the comments. I especially admire those who were brave enough to sign their name (although I can also understand the safety in remaining anonymous). While I don't believe it is appropriate to share any further about this issue on this type of forum, I would invite any of you to email me so we can set up a time to talk face to face. My email is


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