New Lyle superintendent: 'All we can do is move forward' (video)
Joe Guanella dismisses the notion that his new job as principal/superintendent of Lyle Public Schools is any special challenge.
"I have no indication that this is any different from any other rural school," he said. "Find me a perfect district."
Guanella's official start date in Lyle was March 1; he sat down for an interview less than a week later.
Though the district had been at the center of a district and community controversy for nearly a year, Guanella has two things in mind: kids and moving forward.
The divisiveness that affected staff, the school board and area residents began when Jim Dusso was appointed superintendent of the district in April. It hit a boiling point when a stringent comment policy for school board meetings was put in place, seemingly to restrict negative opinions.
In January, Dusso tendered his resignation, saying he'd finish the school year, per his contract. Less than a month later, he moved his resignation date to Feb. 29.
"I knew very little of what was going on around here," his successor said.
Guanella — who was principal/superintendent of Alden-Conger Public Schools for nearly 10 years — said he learned something from his father, also a superintendent of schools.
"Negative news becomes a bunch of information (and) you don't know how accurate and complete it is," he said. "The unknowns are filled in with negatives. It's the nature of the beast.
"All school districts go through cycles," Guanella continued. "Things go very well for a while, then can dip. You just do what you can to help the positive flow. We're sitting in a new building here — clearly, they love their school."
The first order of business was simple, he said.
"The kids. I knew the first day that I needed to be out and about, greeting the kids, giving them the self-confidence they need," Guanella said. "Two things about kids: They're very resilient, and they're very willing to move forward."
His goal is "to help establish a positive direction and a bright future. There are very good people here," he said. "I can't dwell in the past and I can't fix it, because it's gone. There are multiple sides to every story, and I can't get every side, so all we can do is move forward.
"I want to let the community know it's going to be OK."