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Lyle's interim leader discusses budget, school board

As the new principal/superintendent of Lyle Public Schools, Joe Guanella's second-biggest job — after the students — is revising the budget for this school year and setting a budget for next year.

"The business manager and I are working on it," he said. "We have some very preliminary numbers, but we have some things we have to track down, primarily (funding) from the state. Like a substantial number of districts, we're on the bubble (financially). We're walking the tightrope."

Guanella and business manager Dan Schroeder "are very much on the same page," he said. "He's accurate and complete."

On school size

"People don't understand that learning isn't a function of school size or a function of class size," Guanella said. "It's a function of dynamics and how you can deliver instruction. It has absolutely nothing to do with head counts, because each group is an individual."


Lyle's student count sits at 218, kindergarten through 12th grade. The largest class sizes should naturally be in the senior high, Guanella said.

"We're going to turn them loose pretty soon," he smiled. "We've already given them cars to drive."

On staff

"I haven't spent much time with them yet, to be honest," Guanella said, "but I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about how I'm dealing with the students."

The staff "needs to be supported, encouraged," he said, "but they're very capable people. They're the adults; they don't need me to babysit."

On the board

It's all about moving ahead, Guanella emphasized.

"I'll deal with the school board the same way I've always done: I'll make sure they have all the information — how school budgets operate and how processes operate," he said.


During the interview process in late February, "they asked what I thought was expected of me, and I said, 'Let me run the school; have parents come to me.' I'll have a workshop meeting with them, and a list of things that will be informational only."

On the future

Guanella's interim position runs through June 30; he'll receive a salary of about $32,000 for the four months, based on the prorated contract of the former superintendent.

Part of his responsibilities during that time will be to guide the board in its search for a permanent superintendent and/or principal.

Is it something he might consider for himself?

"I'm keeping all my options open," Guanella said. "This job came up just as I was starting to look again."

Lyle is comparable to Alden-Conger Public Schools, where he spent nearly 10 years as principal/superintendent before leaving in 2011.

"Rural communities — they love their kids and support their school," Guanella said. "There are a lot of good things going on."

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