The East Allen County Schools Board is expected to make official the hiring of a new superintendent this week.
Ken Folks, introduced to the community last week, is an experienced Indiana school administrator who could make real improvements in the district. The board, however, must get out of the way and let him lead.
Folks comes to East Allen from Marion, where he helped turn around a high school targeted by the state for takeover. He earlier was an administrator at Northwest Allen County Schools and Northern Wells Community Schools, giving him a broad range of experience in urban, rural and suburban schools. The expansive and diverse East Allen district encompasses each of those types of schools.
To their credit, the board members selected a licensed superintendent instead of using an ill-advised new state law to hire a non-educator. Folks’ education background and familiarity with Indiana school policy will give him immediate credibility with faculty and staff and should reassure parents that academic considerations were foremost in the board’s choice of a new leader.
The challenge for the East Allen board, however, will be in allowing Folks to do his job. The board has a history of interfering in day-to-day district operations – inappropriately communicating with building administrators and teachers and second-guessing top-level administrators.
In approving a contract with Folks on Tuesday, the board should pledge to commit itself to board service that recognizes his skills and allows him to bring the entire district together.