Darts & laurels: Good principals are hard to keep

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

Laurels to Mike Waiksnis for sticking with Knox Middle School as principal for three years — more than several of his predecessors and his initial co-principal. Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody set out to change the culture at Knox, then a low-performing school, and took the bold move of assigning two highly qualified principals she’d worked with in Rock Hill, S.C. Unfortunately, neither of the co-principals moved here, and it was only a matter of time until they left. LaToya Dixon left last year; now Waiksnis has taken a new job close to home. Their four-year contracts could not hold them. Nevertheless, Knox improved under the co-principal model, and the continuing presence this year of a Deputy Principal Christopher McNeil — in addition to assistant principals — should provide some continuity for next year.

Laurels to Rep. Harry Warren, a Repubican from Salisbury, for not shying away from constituents. The state lawmaker has scheduled another meeting — 6 p.m. May 18 at 130 W. Innes St. — even though the one he held in mid-March grew contentious at times. Many constituents didn’t get the chance to sound off, and they left frustrated. Everyone will get another chance on May 18, though Warren has laid down new ground rules. Seats will be set aside for 77th House District constituents; questioners’ names are to be submitted in advance and drawn at random with the help of local Democratic and Republican party chairmen. We’ll see how that works. Constituents might wish they could lay down some rules too, such as limiting the length of Warren’s comments. His knowledge of the legislative process is deep, and his explanations can veer into the arcane. But give Warren points for scheduling two public meetings in a year when some politicians are running for cover.

Dart to absentee landowners who neglect the upkeep of their property to the detriment of the surrounding neighborhood and the community at large. People often lament absentee landlords, but what also plagues cities across the nation are houses and lots that are completely abandoned. Owners can’t or won’t maintain the property, so it languishes. Blight sets in. This week, the East Spencer town board hired a law firm to collect taxes and mowing expenses from several such landowners. The town has more than 30 in all. This is about more than aesthetics; it’s an economic development issue.