FINCH: School board appreciation
By Curt Finch
January is School Board Appreciation month.
Being a local and/or Intermediate School District (ISD) board member for the last 10 years in Michigan has been tough and will probably continue into the near future. Although the economy has shown signs of recovery, school boards are often thrust into the fiscally conservative chair for their school district against their will. When community, staff or student pressure for programming, educational options or financial constraints arrive, it is imperative that school boards have the long-term approach of stability to a system. The last 10 years have been about survival; the next 10 will be about change.
The Michigan Legislature has put considerable time and effort into molding the shape of educational systems for the past several years, even in the economic downturn. Although afraid of focusing on the university and community college systems, the Legislature has not been shy about working on providing their solutions to K-12 educational challenges; some of the recent changes have been historic with the financial and educational impact to be determined over time.
School boards are the intermediary between the Legislature and school districts by the policies they adopt and the financial decisions they support of the district leadership. At the local level, one wrong financial move could take a decade to fix for a local district since student population is the driving force behind their system, a variable that is not constant. ISD board members have to focus on being financially stable for their local districts, as our wagon is hooked to federal support and slow-moving property tax valuations. Local school districts must have faith in their ISD to continue to provide quality services in the areas of professional development, vocational training and special needs programming.
Both sets of school boards need community members that understand both systems and their interdependence.
We are blessed in our two counties to have multiple school boards who understand the importance of working together within the MOISD for the betterment of students. The MOISD board has representatives for each school district who focus on the big picture; most have multiple years of service (Marie Wilkerson – 7, Sheri Thompson – 4, Larry Sredersas – 4, Hope Shaw – 4, Rick Christner – 9, Darlene Fuller – 20, and Randy LaPreze – 1). Take some time this Christmas season to thank your local school boards and the MOISD board, as their work has been very challenging this past decade and the journey ahead will not get any easier; they need your continued support and encouragement.
Dr. Finch can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @CFinchMOISD