Herald Journal Columns
June 10, 2002 Herald and Journal
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Hoheisel: a job well done


My congratulations go out to retiring HLWW Superintendent Riley Hoheisel, who is wrapping up an excellent career in one of our local school districts.

There are two particular attributes that come to mind that set Hoheisel apart as one of the best superintendents around.

One is his financial management ability. The other is Hoheisel's willingness to take personal responsibility.

All around the state, numerous school districts are in varying degrees of financial crises.

Yet HLWW has a positive general fund balance that is the envy of others for miles around.

I wondered many times why that is. HLWW has to play by the same rules as any other school district regarding state funding formulas, and all the intricacies that go into balancing a school budget.

The answer became apparent in quotes from Hoheisel in a couple of our recent news stories: "Spend only what you take in."

Man, those words should be carved into the walls in two-foot letters in every superintendent's office around the state.

While the common sense discipline of spending only what you have should be expected from all our leaders, that's not always the case.

In a nearby district, I've seen firsthand a prevailing attitude that the state doesn't give schools enough money, so we'll spend, spend, spend anyway and deal with it later.

Beyond the financial prowess, what I came to respect most about Riley is how he took personal responsibility for everything related to the school district.

He acted as if he owned the place, not just managed it for the taxpayers.

Again drawing on my experience on a school board, I found the education system to function so that it is very easy to avoid responsibility if one wants to.

After all, the superintendent just makes recommendations, but the school board takes official action.

On the other hand, board members really don't have the day-to-day knowledge or formal training to run a school; they go by the administrators' recommendations.

And when that fails, there's always another committee or management team or some other nameless, faceless group to blame.

Riley didn't do that. Several times I witnessed him asking and insisting "Who will be responsible?" for following up on a certain project.

His constant willingness to be accountable is what I admire most.

There should be more people like him in leadership positions.

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