Ennis adult education program has new director

The Ennis School District has hired a new adult education coordinator to take the reins of an expanded program in its second year.

Doranne Pitz comes to Ennis from Colorado and a diverse educational background including working with Outward Bound and as the director of resident life for a boarding school.

She also brings with her a passion for continuing education and seeing the adult education program at the Ennis School District continue to expand.

“I think right now the program has an amazing base that has been set and it can only go up from here,” Pitz said.

She takes over for former directors Jon Goodman and Toni Fanning, both of whom stepped aside over the summer.

Goodman and Fanning both were hired part time and served as the first adult education coordinators for the school district.

“We miss both the other directors,” said Ennis superintendent Doug Walsh. “Jon and Toni were very good.”

Pitz was hired in August out of a pool of several applicants that included both local residents and others, like Pitz, looking to move to Ennis, he said.

“We had a lot of folks that were interested,” Walsh said. “We ended up interviewing about five.”

Pitz stood out because of her energy and varied background, he said.

“She’s young and full of ideas and willing to implement them,” Walsh said. “She’s doing great, she really is. We’re very pleased to have her.”

Pitz’s early goals for the adult education program, which was named the Ennis Continuing Education program last year by Goodman and Fanning, are to build on what was done last year.

Goodman and Fanning, along with input from a local advisory committee, distributed a survey to residents and designed classes based on that feedback.
Pitz is anxious to continue the interaction with the community Goodman and Fanning started.

“That’s something I’m looking forward to doing is getting out in the community and talking to the locals and finding out what they want, what they’re interested in and how we can help them get that,” she said.

In the past year, adult education funding at the school has been the center of much controversy. This year’s budget allocated $250,000 in taxes toward the adult education fund within the school district’s budget, which will bring the fund up to nearly $3 million. That money will all go toward operating the program, including paying for supplies, extra utilities at the school and staff time needed to operate the classes.

At an Ennis School Board meeting in August Walsh estimated the school will spend about $400,000 on adult education this year.

Having Pitz on board will help the school district determine what the ongoing budgetary needs of the program will be, Walsh said Tuesday. But it may take a year or so.

“I think after a year of having a director, we’ll have some clarity,” Walsh said. “We’ll let her get her feet down and once she does we’ll have a better idea of knowing exactly where we sit.”

As far as the controversy surrounding the program’s funding, Pitz is aware of it but looking to the future.

“I think right now what’s done is done and we can only do that … just move forward,” she said.

And she’s been grateful for the warm welcome she’s received in Ennis and at the adult education classes.

“The community is very welcoming and I’m very excited to be here,” Pitz said.

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