Meet the candidates running for Reed City school board

There are 3 candidates running for 3 board of education seats at Reed City Area Public Schools in the Nov. 8 midterm election. 

There are 3 candidates running for 3 board of education seats at Reed City Area Public Schools in the Nov. 8 midterm election. 

DeBrock, Ronald

REED CITY – The Pioneer reached out to each candidate running for Reed City Area Public Schools board of education seats in the Nov. 8 midterm election with a Q&A form. These are their responses.

Candidates on the ballot are Heidie Decker-Thomas, Jamie Eichenberg and Christine Mund. Melissa Emmorey and David Williams are running as write ins and were not included in this Q&A.

Jamie Eichenberg

Why are you running for a seat on your district's board of education?

I came onto the board without much knowledge of how a school district ran or what a board of education did. I just knew that I wanted to learn more and be involved.

I was inspired by a friend of mine who had served on the board before his passing, and during various discussions with him, he showed me how rewarding civil service could be. What I've found is that it takes a long time to understand what a board's role is, how to decipher the intricacies of school data, what it takes to make effective change, and most importantly how to be a collaborative board member.

I would like to continue to build upon what I have already learned and continue to serve the students, staff, and community of Reed City Area Public Schools. I graduated from Reed City, I have children who graduated from Reed City, and I have a child still in the school district, so making sure that Reed City is a quality school that everyone is proud to attend really means a lot to me. 

What do you wish to accomplish?

The board of education has taken on the task of strategic planning, and I would like to see that come to fruition. When I started on the board, we didn't seem to have any real goals, we just met and voted on what was in front of us without a future in mind. We worked only in the present, but this strategic planning process has allowed us to work collaboratively with our stakeholders to set a direction for the future of the district. An integral part of this process has been listening to what our diverse community thinks and taking it into consideration as we look forward. It would be a great accomplishment to be a part of the future that we have been building.

During my first few years on the board there were many struggles and a lot of turnover within the board, but we now have a solid group of individuals who all have different opinions yet are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other; we have become a board who can disagree but still be respectful to each other. Together with our superintendent, we have started to build a path towards setting attainable goals and focusing on the programs and curriculum that will help our students achieve academic success. I count that as a pretty big accomplishment so far, but I'd love to see what we can do next.

What background and skills do you have that would help you in this position?

 I am a parent, not that being a parent qualifies me to hold an elected office but being a parent does teach me how to listen to understand.  My tenure on the board has proven that I don't shy away from difficult but crucial decisions and conversations.  I always try to listen before answering and I take into consideration how the things that I say could reflect upon our district.

During the four years that I have served on the board of education, I have dedicated the time to take numerous Certified Board Member Awards program classes to learn how to be an effective board member. Some of the most inspiring courses that I've taken include a course on data-informed decision-making and a course on understanding school finance. 

Professionally, I am a policy and systems trainer. In my position, I am able to problem-solve and articulate decisions and policies to those I work with. I am a leader in my career field and was previously awarded a statewide staff person of the year award. My co-workers would describe me as trustworthy and loyal. One of my most important skills, is that I am a lifelong learner. I value the opportunity to learn new things and to take into consideration the thoughts and ideas of an evolving world.

If elected, what issues in your district would you take on first?

There are plenty of issues that a school focuses on, but as a board member who has the overall view of the entire district, I cannot be singularly focused on one issue because it does not serve all students equally; the only issue that serves all students is making sure that our schools are a safe and supportive environment for everyone. I do recognize that within the safety of our halls and classrooms, we need to focus on education so I would continue to work with the superintendent and the rest of the board to improve our academic scores by looking at the data, seeing the areas that we are struggling with and focusing our resources where it will be most effective. 

Christine Mund

Why are you running for a seat on your district's board of education?

I am running for re-election to the Reed City Area School board because I am honored and proud to represent the students, parents, staff and community of RCAPS. I was originally appointed to the board in May of 2018 and then elected to a four-year term in November of that year. I take great pride in the Red and Black. My husband and I, along with our parents and children, are all Coyote Alumni.

What do you wish to accomplish?

After years of constant turnover with our school board members, I hope to accomplish stability. If re-elected, I will have the longest seniority of our board. The group of members we have currently, work well together and all have the best interest of all students at heart. No one is there with an underlying agenda or for personal gain.   

What background and skills do you have that would help you in this position?

Though my own children are adults now, they all live within our school district, which means my grandchildren will attend RCAPS. I spent many years volunteering and subbing at the school when our boys were younger. The issues students and parents have to face today are different than even just a few years ago, but educating students remains the same. It has to remain in the forefront of what we do. I have knowledge of the workings within school districts and continually take classes from the MASB to learn more.

If elected, what issues in your district would you take on first?

If re-elected there isn’t any issues I would take on. The school board is made up of seven members whose function is to follow the laws set forth by our state and federal governments. We create policies to help enforce those laws for the protection and education of ALL students. It is the board’s responsibility to ensure students are safe and educated. I have been blessed to serve our community for the last 4 1/2 years and would be grateful and honored to serve four more.

Heidie Decker-Thomas

Why are you running for a seat on your district's board of education?

I am a mother of four boys in the Reed City School District.  I have always been very involved in everything my boys do and my husband and I try to support them as much as we possibly can.  During COVID-19 I was faced with some challenging decisions which led me to start attending board meetings regularly and I found them very informative and interesting.  While attending the meetings, I realized there was a huge gap in reality and communication between the board and parents.  I have many concerns about things currently going on in our school district and more fears of things coming our way.  I do not feel like I can complain or point fingers if I am not willing to stand up and try to make a difference. It is time for my voice to be heard and this is a way to do that.

What do you wish to accomplish?

I hope to close the communication gap between the school board, staff and parents. Many people do not feel they are heard or feel important and everyone deserves to be heard.  Everyone involved needs to be able to communicate without hate and anger.  We need to work on listening to each other and find solutions that will work for everyone involved. By closing this gap, hopefully we can start to address the many issues going on inside our school system.

What background and skills do you have that would help you in this position?
 
I graduated from Ferris State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree. My job involves working with families who need financial assistance. I deal with the public daily and this has helped me to increase my communication skills. I have always had a great desire to help others and I try to do as much as I can to help those in need. I serve on the Reed City Rocket Football board as the treasurer and fundraising coordinator. I also started Reed City Christmas Miracles, a group of people who make Christmas possible for local families in need. This will be our seventh year helping local families.  Most importantly, I am a very concerned parent who only wants the best for her children.
 
If elected, what issues in your district would you take on first?

If elected, I will work on communication and transparency between the school board and parents. We need to find a way where the board can openly communicate with the public and make it easier for the parents to voice their concerns. The community needs to be able to hear how and why the board is making decisions. I plan to ask questions and find out why things are done the way they are. Hard questions need to be asked and I plan to do that. Parents need to feel like their voices are heard and are making a difference.