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Williams a good choice

Interim superintendent well qualified

The Rochester School Board was fortunate, after the resignation of Mark Shellinger, in having in Jerry Williams a fully qualified candidate to serve as interim superintendent.

Williams has done a fine job as director of human resources and also performed well during a previous stint as interim superintendent when former Superintendent Jack Noennig resigned.

As acting superintendent, Williams not only maintained the district's operations competently, but also established good relations with the community and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce.

Partly because of his work, the district gained support for its $39 million tax levy override and was able to pass it after a previous override attempt failed.

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In appointing Williams, the board said it did not expect him merely to maintain operations until a new superintendent is appointed. Instead, members said he should continue to develop and expand programs as required. That was the right course, because a new superintendent probably will not be named for about 15 months.

During that time, Williams will have the task of helping the district adjust to operating with reduced funding. Instead of an annual income of $6.8 million from the tax levy override, the board has decided to use about $3 million for current operations and save the rest for the next biennium, when funding from the state is expected to be reduced.

An equally important task will be to supervise the arrangements for hiring a new superintendent and for making sure that his or her background and credentials are subjected to careful scrutiny. This was not done sufficiently before Shellinger's appointment, as the school board learned to its regret.

Finally, Williams' experience will be needed when new board members, to be elected in November, gain experience with the many aspects of serving on the board.

The school district has experienced some setbacks in recent weeks, but we believe it can get back on track with Williams' leadership.

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