Without Leadership and character no amount of money can help a school succeed. We are on the very threshold and many school districts are facing an important vote. The results of that vote will impact the future for students, you, parents, the community, and the nation. School district budgets and school board candidates are on the ballot. Many school districts will be voting within the next several days and the issues are too important to be overlooked.

The school budget is a statement of the educational priority plan for the District. And the school board members are the trustees of the school system. Their responsibilities include, in addition to other areas, assuring excellence in the governance of quality educational programs, analyzing and prioritizing essential needs, establishing policies, allocating resources, and monitoring educational progress. Excellence in our schools, undergirded by a sound fiscal plan must be guided by principled leadership and uncompromising integrity.

There is an old expression which says that children need to learn the 3Rs: READIN', 'RITIN', 'RITHMATIC'. Today however, national statistics show that two-thirds of ninth graders will leave high school without the English and math skills to handle college or land a job that can support a reasonable standard of living. This statistic has devastating consequences for our young people and for our country. The good news is there are those educators and others who have a design to fix our broken or weakening schools. In addition to the traditional 3Rs which are a must, we need to instill within our learners, three additional 3Rs: an attitude for a RIGOROUS work ethnic, self RESPONSIBILTY and accountability, and a RESOLVE to be resilient and steady at the work job of learning and physical activity. These 6 Rs aren't like the individual answers on a multiple choice test and you pick one; ALL six are required. They are the building blocks for individual success and a design for excellence and a road map for the future prosperity of our great nations. If ever there was a time, this is THAT time for virtuous leadership in our schools and on the part of our school boards.

The school budget document is a road map for the distinct. And the school board's effective implementation of that budget is essential. The board is a strategic body of decision makers. They set the tone for the school system and should serve as a model of excellence. As the stewards of the people's business the corporate body of trustees of a school district has major public responsibilities. And a trustee occupies a position of trust in the performance of their pubic duties. Clearly, the performance of members of public boards call for the highest level of leadership, honesty and courage. It isn't easy meeting the needs of hundreds of students and the desires of twice as many parents.

The productivity and ingenuity of Americans everywhere is the envy of the world. Our schools should reflect this ingenuity and productivity. American innovation and productivity is leading the way in this information age. And new technology speeds an exchange of ideas that often bear the mark of American inspiration. Few nations in history have been granted such a singular opportunity to help shape the future of so many people around the world. And virtuous leadership is desperately needed in all aspects of American life. We believe this need will be met and it begins right where we are... in our schools and in our communities. It is imperative that it presides in local municipal government settings, county agencies, state government operations, and on local boards of education.

As we see it, uncompromising leadership is influence guided by core beliefs and virtues that mobilize people to accomplish a mission and a vision. A virtuous leader does NOT shirk from responsibility. Building excellence in our schools is essential. Maintaining a wholesome and safe environment is a prerequisite. In the words of Winston Churchill: "Someone has to take responsibility, I will."

Sustained excellence in leadership, at all levels, from the trusteeship on a local school board to the greatest office in the land requires adherence to ethical values and determined perseverance. These core values are the touchstones for leading and the ethical lodestars for action. It is by firmly holding to one's principles, and acting on one's convictions that one earns the right to lead. For principled leaders concentrate on doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. With this kind of determined "will" within all levels of the school organization, horizontally and vertically, our schools will indeed be hallmarks of excellence. Tuesday, May 17 provides a time and a place towards achieving this realization. And that is how we see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.

(Kevin Wysocki from Washington, D.C. and formerly from Cherry Creek contributed to the piece.)