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Former CAB Leader Bob Myers Says Boards Handled Challenges Differently
October 31, 2007 - In 1959, one of the last major decisions made by legendary Charles A. Beard School Corporation Superintendent L.E. Rogers was to hire Robert L. Myers as principal at Knightstown High School.
Rogers had served as superintendent for 40 years and liked what he saw in the young educator, who had studied abroad and chose to return to his hometown and teach.
Eight years later CAB Superintendent Lyle O. Bell, who had been hand-chosen by Rogers as his successor, passed away unexpectedly. On Oct. 25, 1967, school board members appointed Myers to be Bell’s successor.
Forty years after that appointment, Myers is long since retired from the field of education. But the civic-minded man who still maintains a year-round home in Knightstown has his own thoughts about education today, the controversies surrounding the local school corporation, and the school board’s struggles to find their way amidst troubled times.
Over the years, he has seen a lot.
Myers became KHS principal one year after the consolidation of Kennard, Greensboro and Knightstown schools. He was the superintendent who oversaw the construction of the new high school (currently KIS) and subsequent consolidation of Carthage and Knightstown Schools. He supervised the closing of several smaller facilities over the years as well, including Central, Carthage and Raysville schools.
Myers has guided the school corporation through some of its most difficult times.
“We went through a lot of the same challenges they are facing today from 1972-1974 when we built a new high school, had a big increase in taxes and had to start paying for it,” Myers said. “The community wanted that new high school and saw the necessity for it. At the time we were way over capacity with an enrollment of about 1,800 students, and that building was full when we first occupied it.”
Myers said today’s school board is facing many of the same problems he saw some 35 years ago. But yesterday’s administrators and board approached the issues in a different manner.
“The primary purpose is still educating the children,” Myers said. “There have been several changes in laws since then and the federal government has mandated a lot of new programs. Yet we still have the same basic problems today as we did back then.
“When I took over (in 1967) we had less than $1,000 in the bank. We had to really watch our spending. I worked with a frugal school board that was very careful with spending. “We closed some schools and fought through some very difficult times.
“But we had a great school board that was concerned with the overall education process. Meetings were always open to the public and all of the board members were deeply involved in the community. We didn’t have meetings by e-mail. The public was always kept informed. Things were always very open and we wanted the public to know what was going on.”
Openness was the key to the school corporation surviving what could have been very troubling times in the late 1960’s. The annexation of Carthage into the school system was controversial in some corners of that small Rush County community. A six-year court battle ensued after some Carthage residents filed a lawsuit to block the consolidation.
Eventually, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered the consolidation, which brought an end to Carthage High School, but made for a stronger school corporation.
“I don’t think many people who came through the system after the consolidation thought it was a bad idea,” Myers said.
Myers’ fast ascent to his leadership position with CAB began in 1949, when he graduated from KHS near the top of his class. He went on to Hanover College and in the summer of 1950, he studied at Heidleburg University in Germany. He received his A.B. degree from Hanover in 1953.
Myers served in the U.S. Army’s Second Division from 1953-55 when he was employed as a social studies teacher at Knightstown. From 1957-59 he was director of guidance at KHS and in 1958 he received his M.S. degree in education from Butler University.
He was named KHS principal in 1959 and superintendent in 1967, a position he held until 1974, when he resigned to become president of Citizen’s National Bank in Knightstown.
Myers married his college sweetheart, Carolyn (Scholer), in 1953, and they have four children, Elizabeth, Margaret (Molly), Robert Lee and John, as well as nine grandchildren.
He is still active in the community with Historic Knightstown, Inc., and first began serving on the local library board in 1959. He is a former Knightstown Kiwanis Club president.
He said today’s school board members could learn from those past boards by simply being more open when they make decisions, and by responding to constituents when they ask questions.
“We went through some troubled times back then, but we came through them all right,” Myers said.
“Communication is always important, but it becomes even more important when there are serious issues to deal with.
“Today’s problems aren’t any different than they were back then. They are just being handled differently. My school board members always laid things out in the open, and when you do that, everyone is informed and involved.”
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