“Things are great,” says new superintendent

September 13, 2018

By John Raffel

Marion superintendent Chris Arrington continues his transition into the new job after being hired into the position during late summer.

“From my perspective, things are great,” he said. “I have been welcomed with open arms by district stakeholders and ISD personnel. Everyone is extremely friendly and willing to help here.”

Finances will be a challenge.

“The projected fund balance adopted by the Board of Education predicted a 5.56 percent balance for the end of the fiscal year,” Arrington said. “With multiple bargaining unit contracts to settle before Dec. 31, this will be a challenge. Hard working employee groups who have given the district so much stand to be rewarded, but how does that happen with the fund balance and student enrollment considerations?

Chris Arrington

Chris Arrington

“Policy making and goal setting are functions of the Board of Education. I have been hired late in the year, and I am still needing to build rapport with our Board. I am in no position to speak on behalf of their collective goals or vision for the district.”

On the topic of increasing student enrollment, “We have beautiful, old, but well kept facilities,” Arrington said. “We have technology infrastructure, devices, and space. How do we leverage our strengths to convince parents and students to come Marion? Even though we are a tiny district, how do we capitalize upon our small town feel while providing our kids 21st century opportunities that prepare them for the Global workforce?”

One incident which happened at a recent Marion football game gave Arrington a unique view of district.

“I witnessed what I construe to be the true Marion spirit,” he said. “Being new to the area, I watched much more than a convincing football team win. First, I ate at a local restaurant, and there happened to be a table full of retired Marion Schools employees. I sat alone. As their group left, several came up to me, and introduced themselves, and welcomed me. They called me by name, because they read the local newspaper. This kind of greeting was so heartfelt. This is the small town feel that can’t be duplicated.

“At the end of the game, one of our award winning cheerleaders had a seizure that was extremely scary for the young lady. While family rushed to her comfort and emergency personnel arrived on the scene, she was met with the entire football team and cheerleading squad. They were all taking one knee, waiting patiently to honor their friend as she was loaded into an ambulance.

“As the new superintendent of a small district, I tried my best to praise their efforts, but I am sure I failed,” Arrington said. “I tried to praise our young adults for doing the right thing, but my words were not enough. The players and cheerleaders were more than gracious. A parent stopped to remind me ‘I know you are new here, but the moment you were hired you were welcomed into this family.

“I have been in Marion almost two weeks, and my initial reaction is I am so grateful to be part of a place that treats folks as people and not numbers,” Arrington added.”

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