Henry Kilmer visits Virginia City

He has a banner that asks the question, "Is it best for kids?"

And Storey County's new superintendent, Henry Kilmer, said that is the key question when it comes to balancing the budget.

"When you make any decision, you have to ask that," he said. "The real challenge is to get people to work together, the board, the community and the staff. Then you can find solutions."

Kilmer arrived in Virginia City on Friday to look for a house and to talk with board members and faculty about $448,000 in budget cuts made by the board last week.

One of the most controversial of the cuts was the school board's decision to abolish the position of the high school principal.

Carol McCracken, board president, said a lead teacher would be selected at the school to take over part-time responsibilities of administrator. The superintendent would take over the remainder of the responsibilities.

Kilmer said he served as superintendent and high school principal in Oregon and Alaska.

"I knew from day one that it was a possibility," Kilmer said. "It's not a foreign idea to me. I've done it at a number of jobs. You just have to balance your time out."

He said he has had plenty of experience with budgets throughout his 20 years of being a superintendent. He said he likes to call it "reallocation of resources."

"It's a way of saying we're not going to get anymore resources so we better find another way of doing things," he said.

Although he said he is not familiar with the particular issues facing Storey County School District, he knows generally what things must be done to balance a budget.

"You've got to look at the most important function of the school district. The most important function is to provide the kids with the best possible education to prepare them for the next step," Kilmer said. "After that, you can look at what makes them better people, like music and art."

Kilmer will take over the role of superintendent in June. He said he is ready for the task.

"Any superintendent needs to build trust," he said. "I've got to go out and do some listening. A lot of listening. Then we can start to make some solutions."

This will be his fifth position as superintendent so he said the budget crisis will not be too daunting.

"You come into whatever's been set up until that point," he said. "You accept whatever's been done prior to you."

He said the basic needs of students has always been the same.

"The needs are knowing what their boundaries are and having good role models," Kilmer said. "That hasn't changed in 50 years."

He said he is looking forward to moving into the area.

His wife, Jo Kilmer, is an elementary school teacher but has not yet decided what she will do once they move to Virginia City. However, she said she is also excited.

"It's a beautiful area and it's a wonderful opportunity for both of us," she said. "I'm looking forward to having some time to find a home and get settled in and look around to see what opportunities are here for me."


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