Crabtree opens up about board resignation

By Kimberly Jenkins -

Keith Crabtree

Keith Crabtree

Changes happen every day and every year, some good and some bad, but no matter what, changes will continue to take place in everything.

Change has taken place at Northwest schools again. Keith Crabtree, president of the Northwest Local School Board, resigned from the School board, officially on Sept. 19. 2017. Crabtree had been a board member for 10 years and the board president for the past four years.

Crabtree first said, “I purchased some apartments in Portsmouth and I started remodeling those, and I decided at that point, if I can’t put in the time that needs to be put in out there, that it would be better to step away from it. So with that and I’ve got a few issues ….

“And with the stress, I don’t have the time to put in the board that I really need to put into it.”

Crabtree said the thing he would like to see is, over the past few years there have been a lot of people talking negative, people will take a perceived negative thing they see that they think is wrong and they’ll magnify it. Then they’ll get on social media and say things that are inaccurate and sometimes, just straight out fabricate stories. He says that they think they are a reporter and they are telling news and a lot of times it’s not news, it’s just rumors. They take these negatives and spread them on social media.

“A lot of the good things that have happened, especially the past four years you don’t hear anything about that. There’s a lot of good things that’s happened, a lot of positive things that went on, especially over the past four years. while I was board President .Those things go unnoticed, or also, the board gets the blame for everything and the credit for nothing. When you are on the school board, you are not at the school and sometimes you don’t even know these things happen … It’s always easier to blame the board.

“But at the same time, the things you do have influence over, not trying to take the credit for and you work hard to see those things become a reality to improve the district, nobody ever says, ‘thanks for working on that, it’s nice to see we’ve got these nice things.’”

Some of the good things that’s happened the past four years. Northwest was in a fiscal caution when Crabtree became president and they were in a situation where the state was ready to really step in and take over and if that would have happened, as far as all the sports and things, it would have been a pay to play situation. Within six months, they came out of the fiscal caution.

Crabtree said that prior to that, “our parking lots were crumbling all over the place. The roofs in every building were leaking, we had things that were an embarrassment. And this is reality. The unions had tried to negotiate for pay raises and stuff we had freezes on, because we had no money to give anybody any kind of raise. The track at Northwest crumbled and we had several years, where we didn’t have track meets there. Our football field was a mud hole, it was just a big swell.

We went in and shot grade on it we had dirt donated from Billy Whittaker construction, he donated dirt to Northwest so the football field could get a new crown on it, so we could get it fixed. This was done, so we could start working on the things that had been neglected for years.

Within no time after I became board president, we began getting raises back. We fixed the parking lot, we fixed the roofs, we put drainage in, just a magnitude of positive things that happened and nobody ever sees these things.”

He mentioned how they fought for years to get the kids at Northwest free lunch and breakfast. And finally last year, theygot all the elementary students free lunch and breakfast. It was a huge accomplishment and something Crabtree was happy to see, because he had been pushing for it for such a long time.

Another project that was done, was the purchase of property to put a solar project in so that the district will get electric at a much cheaper rate. It could save them up to $100,000 a year. These are some of the things that a lot of people have overlooked, he said due to other issues that people thought were more important.

There are so many things that come into Northwest that have to do with the sports, and they don’t see all the other things that have went on, over the years. “Right now, we are in a much better situation than we were four years ago. Things have improved drastically, not saying sports is not important, because it is, but they miss the bigger picture, said Crabtree.

And this, is where it comes to a point where it wears on you.”

Jill Carver and Crabtree are the longest running board members up to now and she’s not running again, due to some of the same issues that Crabtree has said. She said that when things start affecting your own children because of what you do as a school board member, it is time to leave.

Crabtree mentioned, “Social media is a great thing, the way you share information, it’s also a terrible thing, because there’s too much misinformation being shared, there’s too many things, as soon as someone gets an axe to grind, they use social media to misrepresent exactly what’s going on and they do that to stir up enough people, that they come in to the board meetings and they just shout and scream and it just keeps things going.

I really do wish Northwest the best and I hope things work out great for whoever ends up on the board and that everything goes well. Unfortunately in this world, not just Northwest, things are kind of split down the middle and it’s just what it is and there’s just half the people that look at things one way and half the other way. You can’t please everybody. There’s always going to be someone who is not happy with the decisions you are making, even tho you try to make decisions that are best for all.

I have other things on my plate and when you get into that, you get a lot of phone calls, especially when things are stirred up. Everytime something gets stirred up, board members phones ring off the hook. And this takes you away from the rest of your life.”

Crabtree has became a grandfather and he says with that, “when you are sitting on the phone all the time, you are trying to cool the and calm waters with some people and it takes away from all the quality time of other things you could be doing, not to minimize that, because it is very important to those people, because as a board member, you should try to do whatever you can to help the people of your district. There is never a time when things are calm.

People think you have more power, when you are the president of the board, but you are still just one vote. You do the best that you can in that position and I’ve been on there ten years and it was just my time to step back from it, and hopefully some people will realize that the problem is not with the board, but that you have so many people with different points of view and that’s going to continue no matter who is on the school board.

I love Northwest, I think it’s a wonderful district, there’s good people and some of the best employees you could ask for. But when you have people who stir things up, it does wear on people and I hope that those things that people stir up, they will be held accountable, because it’s inappropriate. Years ago, you had the newspaper and TV, but they had to have facts and now with social media, that is nothing more than a rumor mill for some things. But people can put it on there with no factual backing and you have to try to answer that. It’s very frustrating, when you are trying to do a good thing.

I wish that the board has a very peaceful time, without a lot of turmoil and I hope Northwest continues to build on the positive things that we’ve worked on, especially the past four years. And, that they always take into consideration the finances, so the employees continue to get their raises and keep everything in a positive light. And work hard for the kids that way.”

Crabtree said of Carver, that she has been one of the best board members that Northwest has ever had. He said that she has stood up for a lot of people over the years and she deserves a lot of credit the time and effort and the things she’s done. Carver had nothing, but good to say of Crabtree also. Both school board members have put a lot of hard work and time into their positions, but both say this is their time to spend with their families and their own personal lives.

Crabtree wanted also to mention someone else that over the years has given his life to Northwest. “This man, has kept our transportation going over the years, he has really donated his life to Northwest.” That man is, Bob Hodge, who is retiring in December. Crabtree says Hodge will really be missed when he leaves. “Without him over the years, there would have been a lot of trouble. He kept things going for years and years, when they didn’t have money for new buses and things.”

Todd Jenkins, Superintendent of Northwest schools said that it always sad to see someone leave, but we just have to pick up the pieces and move forward.

The school district will be getting new board members in the upcoming elections, and Northwest schools will be starting over with new faces. Once again, proving that things are constantly changing and people will adapt and continue on with their lives and work.

Keith Crabtree Crabtree

By Kimberly Jenkins

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928