Voters in the Huron Valley and West Bloomfield school districts will decide contested races for school board seats during the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election. As has been our practice over many years when voters are presented with a contested race, we queried the candidates on issues we believe are relevant to the school district at this time, and considered their backgrounds in coming up with endorsements for those readers seeking advice.
Readers can also find our election coverage on the Education pages of this week’s edition.
HURON VALLEY SCHOOLS
Voters in this district will fill two school board seats on Nov. 8. Nine candidates are vying for four-year terms on the board. This particular field is not only large, but fairly strong, making for a difficult decision for voters. For example, candidates such as Kim Galbraith and Jeffrey Long were pretty impressive with their responses to our candidate questionnaire, and other candidates in the race also showed a sound grasp of the issues and relayed some interesting ideas. We’re recommending BONNIE BROWN and JOE GHISLAIN for the two open seats on the Huron Valley board.
Brown has some experience on the board, having been appointed to a seat last December. She’s used some of the time since then to work toward becoming certified through the Michigan School Board Association. Brown, a registered nurse, is currently the school board’s secretary and has served on the Huron Valley Schools Parent Council and been involved with the St. Mary’s Health Ministry.
Brown is an advocate for increased use of energy-efficient structures and equipment as a means to help the district save money. She also calls for open communication between the board, administration, teachers and staff, and the community through any and all modes and media.
Ghislain, a manager with Ford Motor Co. responsible for increasing efficiency and reducing costs, as well as developing business strategy, previously served on the Huron Valley Board of Education from May 2007 to December 2008. He’s also a current member of the Huron Valley Schools Strategic Planning-Finance Task Force.
Like Brown, Ghislain also calls for expanded use of energy-efficiency to help the district reduce ongoing costs. He remains mindful of board members’ obligation to promote transparency and accountability by making sure the public has access to officials and data.
The thing that both Brown and Ghislain offer that the other candidates don’t is experience. This is important because it minimizes the amount of time they will need to be fully up to speed and productive members of the school board.
WEST BLOOMFIELD SCHOOLS
While not as large, the six-candidate field in this race may well be even stronger than the Huron Valley field, which is really a blessing. With two, six-year board terms at stake, we believe voters should elect NELSON HERSH and JULIE BEATY.
Hersh is the owner of Hersh-Beattie Orthodontics and has served on the West Bloomfield Board of Education since 2002, including stints as president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. Beyond that, he has been very active in the district and the greater community through many volunteer positions and endeavors. This wealth of experience is what makes Hersh stand out above all the candidates. He already knows the mechanics and intricacies of public education in Michigan and will waste no time bringing himself up to speed on issues, processes or statutes influencing the schools.
A proponent of providing greater foreign language options in the early elementary setting and more emphasis on English composition, Hersh cites board members’ appreciation of taxpayers’ financial contributions to the district and using them wisely and efficiently as one of the most pressing issues for the district.
Beaty is an Oakland Community College professor teaching marketing, advertising and business; and vice president of consumer engagement for Indentity Marketing Group. She serves on the Lighthouse of Oakland County Board of Directors, as chairperson for the Beacon of Hope, and is the Gretchko Elementary PTO president. She’s working to help implement pre-Advanced Placement offerings in the middle schools and also supports foreign language courses at the elementary schools to help students become competitive in the global economy.