I have a unique opinion on this that I hope will cause you to take pause. I think a school board member’s job is the toughest elected job that there is. I write this as we typically recognize them for their efforts in January, Board Member Recognition Month.
Years ago, our School board members cut their pay from $30 to $20 a meeting. Wow! Board members cannot be doing this job for the money.
I have been associated with organizing Board meetings for more than twenty years, both here and in Flint. There have always been issues at the local level but a lot of big issues like assessment, graduation requirements, credentialing, and funding are handled by the state legislators and Department of Education.
With this state oversight, board members in Eaton Rapids have always been interested and active in curriculum and local stewardship.
Like most districts, we have seven board members elected to staggered, six year terms. This year, you are served by Joe Loren (president), Val VanSandt (vice president), Jeannine Norder (treasurer), Brian Ross (secretary) and Steven Curry, Jann Jansen, and Dan Guy as trustees.
Last year was chaotic and this year looks to be more of the same. Local school boards must create and review learning plans monthly. They must react to executive orders, legislative changes, relief packages, and getting students back to a safe in-person environment. Board members must also provide direction on how the schools are set up to operate safely.
Board members must interpret health information from multiple sources and listen to administration describe the personnel landscape. More than any other year that I can remember, their focus on curriculum and local finance will be critical.
I have one professional insight for you. These seven board members are smart and certainly have opinions but they can put personal interest aside to do what makes sense for students in both the short term and in the long run. In this environment where we have so many medical and personnel unknowns, this is really a big asset. I do not know what else we could really ask for.
For 2021, Board Member Recognition Month should last all year!
Submitted by Bill DeFrance, Superintendent of ERPS