Advertisement

Marie Byers

December 01, 1999

For almost 30 years, B. Marie Byers' name has been synonymous with education in Washington County, a three-decade tradition she now says will end in December 2000 when her current term is over. No doubt there will be retrospectives and tributes galore between now and then, but let us be the first to take note of what her service has meant to this area.

Byers' service began in 1970, when the school board was still an appointed body. She's served under four superintendents and has had a hand in every major educational decision of this era, including redistricting, the closing of older schools and the construction of new ones to take their place. She was a strong voice for increased funding of the school system, challenging the county commissioners to look beyond the next election to the education of future generations.

But Byers was also part of the board that decided to take a look at the system, and how it was working. In 1997, the board votes to have Phil Delta Kappa International of Bloomington, Indiana perform what's called a "curriculum audit."

Advertisement

The consulting group found a host of problems, including ineffective management, fragmented staff development and inadequate long-range planning. After hearing its recommendations, Byers didn't quibble, but instead said the system would "move forward for student achievement."

A task force of more than 100 business leaders, teachers and administrators was formed to write a strategic plan, which has since been implemented.

The result? Student performance has begun to improve and local schools are competing for National Blue Ribbon School status. Byers' long service enabled her to see that it was time for the system to change, so that the system she gave so many years trying to improve will continue on an upward path.

Byers' 29-year stint is all the more remarkable when we reflect that for a job that requires as much time and effort as the board of county commissioners, the pay is less than $6,000 a year. For all that Marie Byers has given the system and the children of Washington County, we thank her.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|