Four candidates running for two seats on Saline school board
Classes that are too large and budget woes are among the top issues listed by candidates seeking seats on the Saline Area Schools Board of Education. On Nov. 8, voters in the district will elect two of four candidates running for four-year seats on the school board.
David Medley, the current vice president of the board, chose not to seek re-election, so voters will pick from one incumbent — David Friese — and three challengers, David Holden, Patti Tanner and David Zimmer.
Following is biographical information provided by the candidates, as well as each candidate's explanation of the two most important issues facing the district:
Family: Married to Diane for 42 years; son, Michael, age 27, is a 2002 Saline graduate.
Profession: Retired from Wayne/Westland Community School in 2005.
Education: Warren Lincoln H.S. class of 1961; Eastern Michigan University, bachelor's degree in education, master's degrees in social sciences and special education.
Previous elected office: Saline school board, trustee, July 2007 to present
Current public and community service: Board of Education liaison to the Foundation for Saline Area Schools; South and West Washtenaw Consortium Advisory Committee; Saline Rotary; FFA Alumni Chapter; Washtenaw Association of School Boards, Executive Committee, Board of Directors and chairman of Legislative Relations Network.
1. Promote an atmosphere which ensures the safety of our children and rich academic and extracurricular programs that reach out to all students. “Board service is not an individual effort, rather it involves the collaboration of seven individuals with unique backgrounds. Board service is not about ... me. One can only work with fellow trustees to achieve any goal.”
2. Engage with state legislators to return our funding levels to historic norms. “As with all school districts throughout the state, our financial instability is the direct result of an unprecedented raid on the school aid fund by Lansing. All members of this community should be incensed by the actions of our state legislators and strongly voice their displeasure. Appropriate funding of public education should be the No. 1 priority of our representatives in Lansing.”
Family: Married to Raye for 29 years; three sons educated in Saline Area Schools, Dylan (class of 2007), Derek (class of 2011), and Reed (class of 2012).
Profession: Manager, Strategic Accounts Automotive Market, Air Liquide.
Education: Bachelor's degree from University of Michigan, MBA from Robert Morris.
Previous elected office: None.
Current public and community service: Current member Pittsfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals; Pittsfield Public Safety Millage Executive Committee (2011); Michigan High School Athletic Association basketball official; Pay to Participate Committee 2010 for Saline Area Schools; past president Warner Creek Homeowners Association; Saline travel baseball and basketball coach for 17 years; Dearborn Public Schools Finance Committee (1981-85)
1. The No. 1 issue we face is financial stability. “The structural deficit must be resolved and the trend of spending more than we take it in needs to be reversed. All three collective bargaining agreements expire in 2012. The agreements need to reflect the current economic environment and contain flexibility with future cost certainty. We will be unable to provide a quality education to our young people unless we resolve this issue in 2012.”
2. Reduce class sizes to manageable levels. Holden says packing up to 42 students in a classroom is unacceptable, that it diminishes the student educational experience and erodes teacher effectiveness. “By restructuring the collective bargaining agreement with the SEA, we will have the ability to create a stable financial environment and a portion of the cost restructuring will be used to hire additional teachers. Yes, we can reduce costs and hire additional teachers at the same time resulting in reduced class sizes.”
Family: Married to Rick Tanner; one son, a freshman at Saline High School.
Profession: Remote implementation specialist for AutoNation.
Education: University of Michigan.
Current public and community service: Helped develop district Counting on Math program and oversaw the after-school program at Pleasant Ridge from 2003-2006, served on the district Gifted and Talented Committee, headed up REACH parent group, former President of Heritage PTO, wrote a CARES grant to fund a new, more age appropriate playground at Heritage, president and seventh grade representative to Saline Middle School PTO, wrote a CARES grant to fund a cafeteria courtyard at the middle school, member of Strategic Framework Steering Committee, Union Facility Review Committee and Wellness Committee; served as a member of the Project Lead the Way Advisory Committee, wrote a grant with Samsung to help fund PLTW programs, member of SAS District Parent Council; currently Saline District Library trustee and member of the budget committee.
1. The most important issue is maintaining the integrity of the schools. “We need to investigate grants and new instructional models to keep our schools elite and preserve our excellent reputation.”
2. Due to the economy and state funding cuts, our budget is at issue. We need to spend the revenue we have more responsibly and more creatively. Every district in the state is making difficult choices, but we need to think outside of the box to become more resourceful. Grants are available to us; let’s eagerly pursue them.
Family: Married to Susan for 24 years, two children both educated in Saline Area Schools, Rob, Class of 2011 and Allison, Class of 2013.
Profession: Principal human capital consultant, Human Capital Partners.
Education: Port Huron High School (1974); Michigan State University, dual major in organizational and industrial psychology and labor relations
Previous elected office: None.
Current public and community service: Active in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, the Heritage, middle school and high school music srograms, the SHS Touchdown Club, the Saline lacrosse program, the SHS Dance Team, the Girl Scouts of America, and the PTO programs at Pleasant Ridge, Harvest, Heritage, Saline Middle School and Saline High School for more than 12 years, member of the 2004 Long Range Planning Committee, activist for retaining the foreign language program at Saline Middle School in 2006, active in the development of the Pay to Participate Committee of 2008, member of the 2009 Activity and Club Fee Committee, led the effort for the development and eventual adoption of the weighted grades policy for Advanced Placement Classes at Saline High in 2010.
1. The No. 1 issue we face is financial stability. We must reset the financial model of the district. We must address the structural deficits that have been part of our operating plan since 2003. “I believe that if we take the tough steps to address the structural deficit of the district while insuring we reduce our class size and make sure our teachers have the resources to do their job in the classroom, we will see improvements across all areas of the district. If we don’t address these very real and practical issues, we face a decline in the academic success that we have worked so hard to build for many years, and, we face insolvency as a district. This insolvency will bring us an emergency manager in our school district. We, as a community, must address this reality for the interests of our staff, our students and taxpayers in the community we serve.”
2. The second key issue we face is the unacceptable class (size) levels we now have in our district. “We now have classes that are greater than 40 (students) in our high school, more than 37 in our middle school and greater than 30 in fifth-grade classes. “We need the engagement of the community, our teachers and staff, our students, our administration, and our school board. This work will require difficult conversations, difficult decisions, and a focus on our long-term and short-term interests at the same time. As a board member I will listen to and work with my colleagues to achieve consensus on my positions. I will listen to students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers to maintain perspective.”