Saline's New Interim Superintdent Arrives With Support Of Board Of Education

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CORRECTION: A previous edition of this article omitted that Laatsch is the interim superintendent. Steve Laatsch is the interim superintendent of Saline Area Schools, not the permanent superintendent.

Steve Laatsch received universal appraise from the Saline Area Schools Board of Education before he was elected the new Interim Superintendent, Wednesday evening. The veteran assistant to outgoing Superintendent Scot Graden expressed confidence in going forward through what has and will be a difficult period for the district.

“Steve has my full support and I look forward to working with him,” Saline Board of Education Trustee Jenny Miller said.

Laatsch is also inheriting a delicate educational situation, having to balance how and when schooling takes place, while also protecting staff, students and their families from the coronavirus. Saline is currently doing that with a hybrid learning model, where some students are reporting to class and some are learning entirely online. Keeping students who are attending school in Saline’s buildings, or online will be an ongoing challenge for Laatsch, and the district. Another perennial challenge will be Laatsch pursuing his educational philosophy.

“It’s really important to me that we are educating the whole child. That’s why I strongly believe that you’re taking and providing many opportunities for kids to learn with strong academics, the social, emotional support, and our learner profile,” Laatsch said in an interview by phone.

That is a reference to the compass concept that Saline Area Schools uses, emphasizing a focus on social skills and being adaptable, as well as succeeding academically.

Laatsch was head of curriculum before getting his new job. Graden said that he was a natural choice since he had worked with him for basically all of his time there, including his 13 years as superintendent.

“I think he’s more than ready, more than capable of the challenge of superintending,” Graden said. “I think it is a great opportunity for the district to have some continuity as they move forward.”

Another challenge on the horizon, both superintendents agreed will be the long-term financing of the district. Saline Area Schools is doing alright financially at the moment, but the real problem, according to the district, will be financing itself over the next few years.

According to Laatsch, whenever the economy takes a beating, school districts generally don’t feel the repercussions until a year or two after that. Threading the needle between providing quality education to Saline’s youngsters, and remaining fiscally solvent, is what Laatsch predicts will be his major medium to long term challenge.

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