Hear from this retiring veteran school board member.
After an 18-year tenure on the Marceline R-5 Board of Education, Lex Cavanah will be attending his final school board member as a director this month. Cavanah took a few moments recently to look back on his time on the board, and the accomplishments that were achieved while he served his hometown.
Cavanah actually failed in his first bid, back when he was 25-years-old, but as his kids got into their school careers, he ran again, and succeeded.
“It was a lot of campaigns, and a long time to serve,” said Cavanah. “My Dad dearly loved children, teaching, and being around young people; I think that he passed a lot of that onto the four of us boys. Education, and educating our young people, is really important to me.”
Cavanah noted that it took some time to get his head around his duties on the board, but noted that serving was never a chore.
“After the girls graduated, I thought I would be done,” admitted Cavanah. “But, our administrative team at Marceline: Gabe [Edgar], Sarah [Dunham], Coach [Brian] Sherrow, Dr. [David] Kiene, Dawn [Lichtenberg] and Matt [Finch]; I have really enjoyed working with all of them. They have been a joy. We share an interest in education.”
This passion for education has led Cavanah to serve as a trustee for Columbia College, a job that he notes is more intense than the local board of education.
Cavanah decided it was time to leave the board when a recent conversation with his wife made him realize that he wasn’t as in-tune with the happenings in the district as he wanted to be.
“I enjoy it, and I want Marceline to be the best school it can be,” said Cavanah. “But I also believe that young parents make good school board members. It’s a good growing opportunity for people to get involved in their children’s education.”
Cavnah continued: “I had a great run, and worked with some great people. I made some great friends, and learned a lot. I am glad to have served the patrons, and especially the children. I had a lot of wonderful people to learn from on the boards that I served. We always tried to keep the kids at the center of the decisions that we made.”
With so much time spent serving the community, Cavanah noted the biggest misconception that people have about his position.
“The biggest misconception that people have is about role of the board of education,” began Cavanah. “When a patron’s child has an issue in the classroom, they feel that they can go directly to the board to get satisfied.”
Cavanah continued: “There is a chain of command that has to be followed, the board is the final step. The board doesn’t run the school, tha administration does. Our job is policy, and guidance for the administration. That’s why we hire those professionals, that’s what they are paid for, that’s their jobs.”
Cavanah concluded the interview by noting some of the biggest accomplishments that occurred under his watch.
“Going to the one-to-one technology initiative was a big one,” said Cavanah.”My fear when we were going to that was if if was going to improve our test scores, or would it just be another gadget.”
Cavanah also noted the diligence of the administration in keeping the district’s facilities up over the years. He also thanked the patrons for their support when the board and district wanted to build the ag building.
But it is the way that the district has managed its finances, despite declining enrollment, that stood out to Cavanah. He gave a lot of credit to Dr. Edgar for his work in this area.
“The number of students we serve has gone down dramatically,” said Cavanah. “We used to graduate in the 60’s, and now we are in the mid-forties. It is what it is. But from a business side, we haven’t had to deficit spend.”
Cavnaah concluded: “We have improved and maintained our fund balances with a declining enrollment. I have to take my hat off to Dr. Edgar and the administration team. There are a lot of tough decisions, and we haven’t shied away from those decisions.”