Crawfordsville Community Schools takes education seriously — from the classroom to the superintendent’s office.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling recently completed his Doctor of Education at Ball State University. The degree is the culmination of a journey that began in 2008.
“We teach the importance of education to our kids every day, so it is important for the leader of the school district to model lifelong learning,” Bowling said. “Also, I learned a lot from my classes. Ball State’s program offers a good mix of practical and theoretical knowledge.”
His dissertation was a study of property tax caps on schools across Indiana.
“I was trying to see if some types of districts were affected more by the caps than others,” he said.
Bowling plans to work with his Ball State faculty advisor to publish his dissertation’s research and findings.
Crawfordsville School Board President Steve McLaughlin said that going back to his days as a building administrator, he demonstrated the qualities of a leader.
“The fact that he was able to earn his doctorate all while keeping the interest of our schools as his first priority proves his commitment to exemplary leadership,” he said.
Not the original plan
Bowling never thought he would be where he is today. Originally graduating from Rose-Human with a civil engineering degree, he worked in industry for a few years before wanting to make a change.
“I wanted to do something that was more personally meaningful for me,” he said. “I enrolled in a transition to teaching program and eventually became a math teacher at Avon High School. I loved teaching!”
But Bowling the teacher was not done being a student. A few years into his teaching career he began his master’s degree in educational administration.
“When I began my master’s coursework, I was not looking to move into administration,” he said. “I was very happy teaching, and I figured that if I ever wanted to become a principal that it would be towards the end of my career. As I started taking courses, I began to get more and more interested in administration, and by the time I finished I wanted to become a principal.”
The first principal job Bowling interviewed for was the assistant principal position at Crawfordsville High School. Though he did not get that job — current high school principal Greg Hunt was hired to fill that position — he was asked to interview for the open assistant principal position at the then Tuttle Middle School.
“I ended up getting that job, which was a shock to me as I didn’t expect to receive a position right after obtaining my license,” Bowling said.
Bowling spent three years as assistant principal at Tuttle. During that time, the then-business manager of the school corporation, Paul Pfledderer, asked him if he was interested in district-level administration. He spent his summer learning school finance. He moved over to the high school for a year as assistant principal before being hired as principal at Tuttle. He served there for three years before Pfledderer retired and Bowling was on the move again — this time to central office.
“At that time, after working with Paul and learning a lot about school finance, I started to think that maybe I would like to be superintendent one day,” Bowling said. “I spent four years as the assistant superintendent, and then when Kathy Steele retired I was selected as the new superintendent.”
Doing more with less
During his time with Crawfordsville schools, the district has had to do more with less. The district may have less funding, but they continue to offer more.
“The school corporation has found a way to continue offering important programs for students during difficult financial times,” Bowling said. “We have retained art, music and PE at the elementary level. We offer a multitude of AP classes at the high school. We offer robotics and engineering courses at the middle and high school. We have school counselors, specialists for our students who don’t speak English as their first language, reading coaches at each of the elementary buildings for students who struggle with reading, and lots of fine arts opportunities at the high school.”
It continues to happen for Crawfordsville schools. Next year, they plan to offer computer science courses at the high school and middle school.
“These are all programs that other schools have cut due to funding decreases,” Bowling said. “We’ve worked very hard to keep them, and to do that we have had to be very careful with our finances.”
Bowling remains involved with the Indiana Association of School Business Officials from his time as assistant superintendent in charge of budget and finance. He currently serves as treasurer for IASBO and will serve as president in a few years.
“School finance is an extremely complex and ever-changing area,” he said, “and the professional development and mentoring that I have received and continue to receive have been invaluable to retaining the programs I spoke about earlier and to building the new middle school.”
From now to the future
A change in title does not mean a change in philosophy for Bowling. He said the community has a legacy of educational excellence that goes back more than 100 years and he looks forward to continuing that legacy.
“We work every day to try to make all of our schools wonderful places to learn and grow, so I’m looking forward to continuing the pursuit of that goal,” he said.
At the end of the day, Dr. Bowling — the same as Mr. Bowling before — wants to work to make the best decisions he can for the students in Crawfordsville schools.