By Curtis Finch MOISD Superintendent January is School Board Appreciation Month for your local school district; when’s the last time you’ve thanked them for their dedication to our children’s futures? Two thousand thirteen will be another challenging year for local and ISD school board members. The past 10 years up north have consisted of cutting, trimming and eliminating, and the future doesn’t look much brighter in the state funding department. The Legislature is committed to more experimentation on public schools and less funding, which makes being a solid school board member into the future even more critical than it was in the past 10 years. School board members provide three critical elements in school leadership; hiring and working with the superintendent on a mission and vision for the district; leadership to stick to that mission and vision despite the road bumps that will come; and provide options for problems and challenges where the community could assist in those solutions. The perfect board of education has a balance of representation of the community and experience working in collaborative environments. Since the ISD runs teacher development, unique special education services and the Career Center, it’s important to have a varied background. The Board of Education for the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District (MOISD) has a good balance of veteran and new board members who effectively represent each of the five local school districts within the boundaries of the ISD. Alphabetically by District, Big Rapids has their representative as Rick Christner. Rick comes to the ISD with prior local board experience at Big Rapids, has been in the Big Rapids community for almost thirty years and has served on the ISD Board since 2005. Chippewa Hills has both Larry Sredersas and Hope Shaw as its reps. Larry is a former grad of Chip Hills and the Career Center and grew up in Mecosta. Hope has local connections as a former graduate and board member for Chip Hills. Evart’s rep is Marie Wilkerson, a former Evart graduate with over 40 years of educational experience as a teacher, administrator, and board member. Randy LaPreze is a former high school graduate, teacher and administrator for Morley Stanwood; his degrees came from Ferris State University and Central Michigan University. Reed City has two reps, Darlene Fuller and Sheri Thompson. Darlene is the longest-serving MOISD Board member (since 1993) and is a sixth generation local who graduated from Reed City High School and Ferris. Sheri Thompson comes to the ISD Board as a former Reed City School Board member, long-standing local farming support-business operator, and thirty years of residency. So, here’s your one reminder! The next time you see your local school board member, say ‘thanks!’ I am sure they would appreciate some encouragement for their challenging job!