FWCS superintendent discusses future of district
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As another school year draws to a close, WANE 15 sat down with Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel to get his thoughts on the year and how things happened.
Dr. Daniel said that while he thought this year had perhaps been the most difficult for teachers and students, he thought this year had been successful.
He said navigating the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely difficult. Dr. Daniel took over as superintendent in mid-2020, at the height of the pandemic.
FWCS students still wore masks during the first semester of the school year, but Dr. Daniel said everyone in the district adapted and handled it as best they could.
While there are many local topics to discuss, the news of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas is clear and present.
Dr Daniel told WANE 15 that the district has already embarked on a major movement to keep children safe and will continue to have discussions on how to create a safe environment.
He says it is “impossible” to create total security, but believes that stronger teacher-student relationships can help avoid tragic situations. He thinks it depends on the community as a whole.
“I think you deal with that by having strong relationships with your students and your children,” Dr. Daniel said. “And you find outside organizations that have the professional expertise to work one-on-one with these students and their parents. And until we do, we will have flashes of extreme tragedy and devastation. But we have to deal with this as a community. It’s not a school system problem. It’s a community problem. »
Dr. Daniel also touched on several other topics during our discussion with him.
Two relate to nationwide staffing shortages that have impacted the FWCS.
The district has been facing a shortage of teachers and bus drivers for several years now.
Either way, Dr. Daniel thinks district leaders need to be more creative in their thinking to alleviate the problems.
Starting with teachers, Dr. Daniel says they need to start looking elsewhere for educators. Simply waiting for people who got a bachelor’s degree won’t work anymore.
He said they need to start looking for less educated people they can train and out to the rest of the world for people from other countries who are looking to become educators.
“Until we can develop our own, that we have started this process and will continue this process, we are not going to see the fruits of this for 2-3 years. So, we are going to continue to have teacher shortages So what are we going to do to get in touch with these alternative type teachers I will call them alternative teachers but these teachers who are not from the traditional 4 year educational curriculum. that’s best? Absolutely, but at the same time I can also say if we can give the right training to people who want to move from their current career to the educational career? Absolutely embrace it,” said Dr. Daniel .
The shortage of bus drivers has hampered the district in recent years. There have been delays and misunderstandings.
WANE 15 recently reported that 23 FWCS drivers all canceled work on a Friday, which caused a lot of trouble, including some students who had to miss school altogether.
In that report, District Public Information Officer Krista Stockman detailed what the FWCS is planning to mitigate communication with parents.
When it comes to not having enough drivers, Dr. Daniel once again talks about being flexible in his thinking.
He said they needed to look at their fleet and better understand how to use their available buses and drivers. They will even see how they can make the best use of the 15-seater buses, which do not require a CDL to drive them.
Dr. Daniel said they needed to be “real” and understand that the district cannot pay people with a CDL what a big company like Walmart can pay its drivers.
Looking to next year, Dr. Daniel said the biggest thing he wants to see across the 53 FWCS schools is consistency.
He said the biggest thing he hears from teachers and parents is a desire to know expectations. Dr. Daniel said he wanted this explained and then see similarities in every school he goes to.
The superintendent offered his congratulations to the graduates.
His message to them is that there is always hope. Dr. Daniel added that with the current labor shortages, he thinks an FWCS graduate looking for a job should have no problem finding it.
Now that the school is officially closed, students are due to return to class on Wednesday August 10.