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Lyle superintendent is ready
For the challenge
New Lyle Superintendent Glenys Hill
August 29, 2012By BEN MITCHELL The Enterprise Glenys Hill, the new superintendent of the Lyle School District, has her work cut out for her. Hill was hired earlier this month to replace former superintendent Martin Huffman, who resigned at the end of July to take a position as interim principal of Toledo High School. Hill takes the helm of a district in the midst of an economic crisis spurred partially by decreased enrollment and a double-levy failure that has caused programs and positions to be slashed. The job will not be an easy one, and Hill says that’s the point. “I took this job because it’s such a huge challenge,” Hill explained. “I wasn’t looking for a job, but I thought this was what I was meant to do.” This can-do attitude stems from Hill’s self-proclaimed “love of education.” She has worked in public education for more than 40 years, with her most recent gig as the superintendent of the Kelso School District. Hill retired in 2011 after 12 years with the district because she wanted to spend more time with her children and her husband, Roger Rada, who is also a retired superintendent. The retirement didn’t last long. In addition to liking a challenge, Hill said she was attracted to the open superintendent position in Lyle because she saw parallels to her experiences in Kelso. She noted that like Lyle, Kelso is a low-income school district that prior to Hill’s arrival in 1999, saw numerous bond measures fail that were desperately needed for renovations to the district’s aging facilities. During her tenure at Kelso, Hill saw the passage of several levies and a bond measure that was used to give Kelso’s schools a makeover. Although she sees similarities to Kelso, Hill mentioned that she has never worked in a district as small as Lyle, nor has she served a district that’s suffered a double levy failure. Hill doesn’t believe the district’s two requests in 2012 for a $738,000 two-year levy were unreasonable. “Now keep in mind, I’ve only been on the job for a week and half,” she told The Enterprise on Friday, “but based on past experience, I would say that [$2.75 per $1,000 of assessed value] was a modest rate compared to state averages.” Regardless, Hill suggested that parents and taxpayers should let her know when she’s missing information or when they disagree with her views. “If I make missteps, I want people to stop by and say, ’Hey, there’s a little history here you need to know about,’” she said. Levies, however, are not Hill’s primary concern. “My absolute baseline is kids learning, so that is where I am going to focus my energy,” she stated firmly. Hill plans on looking at what’s left of Lyle’s educational programs and “making sure they are of the highest quality.” Other goals include more training for teachers to make sure their curricula align with state standards, increased offerings of accelerated classes and bringing back electives such as drama, music and art — the resurrection of which she hopes will help solve Lyle’s “concerning” dropout rate. Despite the work that needs to be done, Hill noted that the district’s facilities are in excellent condition and she praised the passion for education that is evident in both teachers and the community. “These are nice people that really care about their school district,” she said. Indeed, the audience during last Thursday’s school board meeting was the friendliest it has been in recent months. Attendees listened silently as Hill introduced herself during the meeting, where she said she has been “graciously welcomed” by the community. Hill plans on talking more to the community and listening to their concerns, including a meet-and-greet on Monday, Sept. 10 at Dallesport Elementary, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. While Hill acknowledged that all of Lyle’s problems won’t be solved overnight, enrollment for the 2012-13 school year is already better than anticipated. The district ended the 2011-12 school year with 292 full-time equivalents and budgeted for 220 full-time equivalents. Hill reported on Monday, the first day of school, that there were 236 FTE and expected 10 to 15 more students would show up that week. “We’re over projection, which is really good,” she said.