During a tumultuous school year, Westfield Academy and Central School has seen the loss of railroad funding, the accidental loss of universal pre-kindergarten funding, the possibility of a regional high school, changes to the school board's policy manual, a new tax levy limit, drastic budget cuts and talks of mergers or consolidations - just to name a few of the issues the district dealt with in 2011-12.
In that time, Westfield has also lacked a full-time, permanent superintendent. This could have been a horrible convergence for the district.
However, Westfield got lucky.
What should not be overlooked as WACS prepares to welcome a new leader is the person who accepted the temporary responsibility of holding this district together - Margaret "Peggy" Sauer.
Sauer could have just sat back and not gotten too involved. She could have just been a placeholder. After all, she was just an interim, only working in Westfield for a year.
However, Sauer was willing to come out of retirement to help WACS in a time of need and help she did. UPK funding has been restored. She found funds for French 4 and to allow a group of students to attend the National We The People competition in Washington, D.C. - items not budgeted for, but of importance to the students and their education. She was also in constant contact with lawmakers in Albany regarding many of the issues listed above, always fighting and speaking for Westfield.
Not only did Sauer step up and help guide the district this past year, she was able to do so because she knows Westfield. Sauer used to work here and thus she was able to hit the ground running, already familiar with the atmosphere of the district. Though times have changed, her familiarity was evident in how much she was able - and willing - to accomplish.
After so much controversy and so many rumors swirling around the superintendent's office, Sauer was a breath of fresh air. She brought with her openness, communication, honesty and an attitude of moving forward. This might just be who she is, but it was desperately needed - whether she knew it or not. Either way, the entire district should be very grateful.
Board of Education President Marie Edwards was spot on when she said there is "nothing, absolutely nothing" Westfield can say or do to thank Sauer for the work she has done in only 10 months.
Her knowledge and quiet, but powerful, leadership will be missed as she heads back into retirement. In her place David Davison, former Randolph Central School's High School Principal, officially began his term as superintendent at Westfield on Monday, May 21. We welcome Davison to Westfield and wish him the best. He has some big - high-heeled - shoes to fill.