At its May meeting, the Mexico Board of Education will be missing a familiar face. After six years on the board, and the last three as its treasurer, Pat Maguire chose not to run for reelection in April.
Maguire said he chose to run for school board in 2011 primarily due to frustrations he had in regard to program cuts at the Hart Career Center. "I was one of a large group of concerned citizens that felt like we were not heard. I was very frustrated by the program cuts and the way our school district was being managed by the superintendent," he said. He said Mexico schools have always been a very big and important part of his life. "Both my wife Dianne and I are graduates of MHS, both of our children went all the way through the Mexico Public School System, and my wife and mother-in-law have both been teachers in this district. I also believe that the school system is a vital part of our community," Maguire said. That lead him to two choices. "I could either quit complaining or run for the school board and try to help make improvements."
While on the school board Maguire feels he has witnessed many positive changes to the school district over the past six years. In 2011 the compensation to the employees in the district was very low, basically the lowest in the area. "When the voters passed the prop C rollback measure, we were able to make our district more competitive in teacher and staff salaries," he said.
In 2016 the voters approved a bond issue that is primarily directed toward improving student safety, specifically the addition of new storm shelters at McMillan, Eugene Field and the Middle School. The finances of the district are now very transparent and are forecasted out for five years, which Maguire sees as an improvement for the business side of the district. "I have seen improvement in how our current administration and district employees work together to focus on educating the students in Mexico," said the former board member.
There are two primary areas that Maguire wishes were in better shape as he leaves the board. "The overall low performance of our students on the required standardized tests continues to be a problem for our district. We score consistently below the state average on these tests and I feel that should not be acceptable for our community, we must find a way to do better. I am also disappointed that we haven’t been able to raise our operating levy for the schools. My concern is that this will adversely affect our current staff as well as our ability to attract the best candidates when we hire new staff."
The major reason Maguire decided not to run for the school board again is the amount of time that it requires. Maguire believes to be effective on the board requires board members to spend considerable time preparing and learning about issues outside of the regular board meeting time and attending functions in the district. "I always felt like there was more that I should do, but couldn’t, due to time constraints. I feel the need to now devote more of my time to family and business obligations. During this time I have learned the wonders of being a grandparent," he said.
After 6 years of service he is ready to let other patrons serve on this board. "I am glad that there was enough interest in the school board to require an election this year. I am encouraged that there are people who want to serve and are willing to give their time to help our district," Maguire said.
Maguire said getting members with new experiences, new talents and a fresh desire to serve will strengthen the board.
"It has been an honor to serve on our school board. I think we continue to have excellent staff in place across the district and they work hard and are constantly working to improve student learning.They have a very important job. "I sincerely appreciate the work they do," Maguire said.
Each month in the individual building reports to the board, these efforts and results are documented. He said it is impressive to see the depth of this work throughout the school year. "I encourage the public to get more involved in our schools. Support the schools any way you can – they need everyone’s help. We all have different talents; please consider using yours to help our schools and the students that they serve," he said. Maguire believes everyone should make an effort to help the students. "These kids are growing up in a difficult time, they need our support," he added.