Local school board elections are held biennially on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even years. Intermediate school board elections generally are held on the first Monday in June, every other year.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, voters in the tri-county area will vote on expiring school board seats. Term expirations are staggered in order not to have an entirely new board at every election.
American education is primarily a function of the states. According to the Michigan Association of School Boards, in Michigan, the Constitution directs the Legislature to “maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools.” By law, the state is divided into approximately 545 local school districts, each governed by a school board.
Under state law, school board members are state officers who carry out the state’s educational obligations at the local level. Every school board member must take an oath of office promising to uphold all laws.
What are some of the powers and duties of a local school board?
• Educate students
• Provide for the safety and welfare of students
• Acquire and dispose of school property
• Determine matters relating to school employees and contractors
• Control the expenditure and receipt of school funds
• Make joint agreements and cooperative arrangements
Who is eligible to serve as a school board member?
Any person registered as a voter in the school district may run for election to the school board. Men and women who become school board members may be taxpayers, parents, business people and community leaders. They may be young or senior citizens and come from all races, creeds and ethnic groups. In short, school board members are people representative of the community they serve.
A candidate must be a registered voter, at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, have been a resident of Michigan for 30 days and a resident in the school district for at least 30 days prior to the election.
To become a candidate, an Affidavit of Identity and Receipt of Filing must be submitted to the local clerk, with either $100 filing fee or a completed nominating petition. Visit mi.gov/elections for details.
The following is a breakdown of our four local school districts.
FENTON AREA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Current board members
Keith Reynolds, president
Kimberly Gruber, vice president
Dana Jones, secretary
Pamela Dickie, treasurer
Lynn Hopper, trustee
Scott Pushman, trustee
Emily Rossmaessler, trustee
Two 6-year terms
One partial term ending Dec. 31, 2020
• Hopper’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Pushman’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Rossmaessler’s term expires 2022, but since she was appointed in March 2019 to fill an empty seat, she would need to be a candidate in November to finish the term.
LAKE FENTON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Current board members
Chris Fletcher, president
Larry Godlewski, vice president
Heidi Howieson, secretary
Bob Hutchins, treasurer
Katherine Carswell, trustee
Mike Cicalo, trustee
Michelle Curtin, trustee
Two 6-year terms
• Fletcher’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Cicalo’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
LINDEN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Current school board
Scott Maker, president
Shari Luck, vice president
Michael Murphy, treasurer
Michelle Shayna, secretary
Steven Losey, trustee
Steve Murphy, trustee
Jason Rowden, trustee
Three 6-year terms
• Michael Murphy’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Luck’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Rowden’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
HOLLY AREA SCHOOLS
Current school board
Michael Newcomb, president
Robin Carne, vice president
Linda Blair, secretary
Peter Deahl, treasurer
Amanda Wowra, trustee
Leigh Jackson, trustee
Teri Weisdorfer, trustee
Four 4-year terms
• Blair’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Deahl’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Wowra’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
• Jackson’s term expires Dec. 31, 2020
Indicators of effective boards and board members
Ethics are essential to the successful operation of the educational system. MASB has developed indicators of effective boards and board members that encompass the most important responsibilities of a board of education. Ethics are intended to ensure that the conduct of a school board holds the respect and confidence of the community, staff, students and all constituents. It’s the belief of MASB that high ethical standards translate into a focus on student achievement, culture and conduct at board meetings and consistent accountability.
Focus on Student Achievement
• Ensure the district has a comprehensive, performance-based plan for improving student achievement.
• Advocate for and support a strategic plan.
• Set the agenda, seek information and ask questions consistent with the plan.
• Focus on issues that improve student achievement.
• Are informed about the issues before the board.
• Play an active role in committee meetings and work sessions.
• Seek information and ways the board and community can be better informed about the district’s progress through an objective analysis of data.
• Base decisions, comments and questions on objective data.
• Visit schools and other community events, in accordance with district policy, to hear from stakeholders and to help shape a positive public opinion about the district.
Culture and conduct at board meetings
• Value differences of opinion and don’t let differences degenerate into personality conflicts.
• Focus the board agenda and meeting on issues related to improving student achievement.
• Publicly support the superintendent and staff.
• Seek to build consensus and an environment of trust and respect among their fellow board members.
• Ensure that familial or business relationships or special interest group affiliations don’t contribute to a bias in decisions.
• Ensure that solicited or received money, services, or other items of value from vendors or special interest groups don’t influence decisions or public perceptions.
• Ensure that commitments and directives are in the best interest of the entire board and district and not the individual board member.
• Create an environment that discourages micromanagement or undermining of the superintendent.