Wiess unlikely man for Roosevelt
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2004
Ex-board member has tips
William "Wink" Wiess served a
short, whirlwind term as the only non-minority and Republican on the Roosevelt
Governing School Board, and he offered this jewel about his service: "I was so
wrong for that district I was right."
Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Dowling appointed Wiess to
replace Carlos Avelar who resigned in July. Wiess began in August with a goal of
bringing "calm" to a controversial school board that often split its
high-profile decisions based on whether key issues benefited Hispanics or
African-Americans in south Phoenix.
Wiess lost the seat in November when voters elected Reyna Polanco, returning
Hispanics to the majority on the board, which overseas a district that is
overwhelmingly Latino. The south Phoenix businessman turned Realtor recently
shared his insights on the board with The Republic.
He isn't bitter and said he enjoyed his experience, but added that the district
still has work to do.
Even though he served less than half a year, he believes his mission was
accomplished because of two unanimous decisions recently voted on by the board.
They were the naming of two schools scheduled for construction before 2008 and
hiring Grace Wright as permanent superintendent.
"It was a wonderful and an enriching experiment," Wiess said. "A lot of the
problems I found at Roosevelt . . . the problems are more institution rather
Wiess called longtime board member Ben Miranda "his shepherd," guiding him
through intricate board policies. Miranda said that before Wiess, board members
seemed to battle over issues.
"Wink's personality: He wasn't defensive, and he was also a regular, all-around
guy to work with," Miranda said. "I think, more than what he did is what he
showed us. If you open dialogue among board members, a lot of problems get
resolved. He helped us find common areas of agreement."
Norma Muñoz, president of the Roosevelt board, said Wiess was "optimistic."
"He really wanted to work with us, blend in and do the right thing," Muñoz said.
Wiess said he learned about the workings of an education system. He also learned
about bilingual instruction, immersion and finances at Roosevelt.
Wiess had some parting advice for Roosevelt board leaders. Among his
• Hire an outside consultant armed with a big-picture view of where the south
Phoenix district stands when compared with other schools with similar
• Hire a public-relations consultant to help improve the image of the district.
• Apply for grants but create a strict accounting to ensure those funds reach
classrooms where instruction happens.
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