Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. While most of the attention in Michigan is focused on the races for governor and senate, there are also a number of local elections deserving of our attention. One of the more important of these is the Ferndale School Board race.
This is your chance to help shape the policies and practices that will guide the education of the next generation of residents of Ferndale, of Michigan, of the planet Earth. If you‘re a parent of a child in the Ferndale school system, you already know how important this is. If you don’t have children yourself, you’re still an adult and raising children is a community responsibility. Let the benevolent auntie or uncle inside you come out, and make a statement for our students’ futures!
All four of the candidates for School Board were kind enough to provide us with a statement and a photo for this edition. As a service, Ferndale Friends is publishing these statements, without editing or comment, to allow you, the voter, to make the most informed choice possible.
Without further ado, Ferndale Friends is proud to present your 2014 candidates for the Ferndale School Board.
I am proud to be a part of the Ferndale school district and to be a part of the positive, recent changes that are in line with our newly-adopted strategic plan. When I was first elected to the board, I believed accountability could be done with difficult questions asked at the table. I now see accountability as much more complex. It involves ongoing, two-way communication with our community members and developing multi-layered systems of evaluation. The current school board has done an outstanding job in the last year focusing on school administrator accountability and making sure we have the policies in place to ensure effective oversight. Institutionalizing these changes, as I’ve worked to do, will ensure that our district can keep our forward momentum no matter who is in the front office. Running with Jen and Karen is a pleasure. We each think in unique ways and yet can work together as a team, respectfully listening to opposing opinions. We share a high level of respect for each other.
The most pressing issue for our school board members will be to continue to implement the district’s Strategic Plan with fidelity. With your vote I will continue my efforts to ensure that the plan is implemented with the voices of our community at the table, and I will ensure that scorecard and stepped assessments are done to make certain plans are completed on time and with transparency. These plans confirm our commitment to our children by establishing high expectations for student achievement, guarantee equitable education for all of our students, and secure our district’s future by making connections with parents to promote our district and keep Ferndale district students in the Ferndale Public Schools. Throughout this process, we will ensure that the superintendent’s evaluation is closely aligned to the strategic plan, as will our own evaluation. Our community recognizes this district is on the rise and I will be mindful and work hard to keep it on the right path.
As a former educator, I am focused on how my actions are impacting the classroom. I also have three sons attending different schools within the district, Pre-school, Coolidge and Ferndale Middle School. Having the parent perspective helps me to remember to ask at meetings, “How will this impact our students”? If what we are doing does not have a positive effect we need to stop and reassess our plans.
Spending time volunteering is important to me. I am a co-director of the Coolidge talent show (as well as a backstage volunteer at the JFK show each year). I volunteer at camps and work the Reality Store at the High School every year. I enjoy my volunteer time at June Fair and the Fall Festival. From selling T-shirts at football games to book conferencing at the middle school, I love being a part of this community.
For more information: http://nan4schoolboard.com
I have lived in the Ferndale Public School district for 20 years and have two amazing third- graders in our schools. When our children came into our lives, my (now) wife and I wanted to live in a place that ensured two things: 1) that our community would be a place where our kids could proudly say, “I have two moms;” and 2) that our local schools would provide them with the best education possible. Ferndale is clearly that community, and the positive momentum that I and my fellow board members have created this past year will ensure that Ferndale Public Schools provide that education.
My volunteerism in the schools and my involvement on the Strategic Planning Committee and now on the School Board make me well poised to understand our challenges, emphasize our unique strengths, and focus on our shared vision for moving Ferndale Schools forward. As an attorney focusing on family and probate law, I have an understanding of diverging view points and emotionally charged situations yet can effectively advocate for our children, all the while maintaining a clear vision of our new Strategic Plan. This Plan was developed over a one year span and involved the entire community. We will be successful in fulfilling the goals and objectives contained in our Strategic Plan by holding close to three primary priorities.
My first priority is achievement. We must work together to ensure that each student, from those with special needs through advanced skills, achieves not only academically, but in extracurricular activities and on their journeys to becoming thriving global citizens.
Priority two is equity. Our community is among the most diverse in Michigan; we have an exceptional mix of individuals with varying backgrounds and experiences: race, income, sexual orientation and so much more. As a leader in the lesbian and gay community, I take pride in our district’s diversity and take personal responsibility for fostering an inclusive and respectful culture for all. Along with our diversity comes a responsibility: that of treating every student, parent, staff and community member with dignity and respect. As a board member, I will continue to hold myself and all school leadership accountable for effectively and honestly working within our community’s diversity. Expanding and supporting a culture of dignity and equity will not only serve to foster extraordinary student achievement, it will also provide the requisite ground work to focus on other essential matters such as governance, financial sustainability and advocacy.
Finally, advocacy: we must advocate for the equitable and successful achievement of our students, teachers, staff and administrators. Public education in Michigan has been subjected to repeated attacks by state and federal regulation and under-funding. I will continue to work towards legislative change while supporting and seeking out creative solutions for securing grants and partnerships to ensure our schools and students receive optimal resources. I have worked hard to create this positive, forward momentum and I now respectfully ask for your vote on November 4, 2014. Thank you.
I bring a solid record of success as an educator, mom, neighbor and as an experienced policy maker and advocate on the Ferndale Board of Education. I hold a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Administration, and work professionally as a world language teacher in Bloomfield Hills. The MASB (Michigan Association of School Boards) honored me with a Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of my extensive training and advocacy on behalf of our public schools at the local, state and federal level. I chaired Ferndale’s recent Strategic Planning Committee, and as chair of the External Relations Committee, provided the leadership for an advocacy trip to Lansing that helped return over $500,000 to our district. This election I’m running for the same reason I ran six years ago: I have three kids in the district and I can see the positive results of proactive, policy-driven leadership. This amazing community has put together an effective team of board members with deep and diverse talents, and I want to keep this successful team together. We now have in place a dynamic strategic vision and an amazingly talented superintendent. I want to continue using my experience on the board to keep building the positive momentum of the Ferndale Public Schools.
My top three issues are achievement, transparency, and sustainability:
Improving student achievement is the board’s main focus. I will use the newly adopted strategic plan as a framework for advancing the quality and equity of our academic programs. Strong schools depend on community confidence that the district’s programs promote high educational growth and achievement.
Transparency is about the timeliness, relevance, and methods by which we invite the community to connect with district information and decision-making processes. I started my board service by advocating for stricter adherence to the Open Meetings Act and posting board packets online for easier access. We are now working to formalize the changes I’ve championed by creating a committee structure that will enhance access to the planning processes.
Financial sustainability is an ongoing challenge for our district. In order to have excellent programs, we need adequate funding. One thing that has slowed the forward momentum of our new superintendent is all the time being spent catching and tightening prior inefficiencies. As a teacher, I know that offering quality educational opportunities is what keeps and builds the confidence and enrollment of our district families. Given that Michigan’s k-12 education funding has dropped substantially, we must be strategic with district resources. We are a community of generous parents and businesses, but we can’t hold enough bake sales to make up the decreases in state funding. I will continue work to tighten policies and processes, advocate for more state and federal funding, seek new revenue sources, and grow district enrollment.
I would welcome and appreciate the opportunity to discuss our district’s forward momentum with you at an upcoming event, while I’m door knocking, or feel free to contact me through my website at: http://karen4schoolboard.com.
“You think you know me; you don’t. But you can, just ask!”
Why do I say this? In today’s society, we live on sound bites; the immediacy of digital ‘media.’ “I heard this”, and “she said that” and so on….. So, thank you, Ferndale Friends, for asking!
Background; Married 39 years to a former Ferndale Public Schools employee, Jan; two daughters, graduated FHS, 2000 and 2002. Got involved in district volunteerism 27 years ago with Mrs. Richardson’s kindergarten classroom at Jackson Elementary School. You can see all of my volunteer experience on my web site, along with all of my extensive school board training. More training than the three challengers combined. www.keithwarnick.com
So why am I running, after being on the board from 2004 thru 2012? Well, I’ve been asked! Parents, citizens and employees that have seen me at district and civic events throughout 2013 and early 2014 stopped me and said, “…wish you were still on the board. We need your leadership skills.” So after talking it over with my wife and others, I put my paperwork in and met with several district employees to find out what is going well and what is not.
You’ll hear about transparency and accountability from the challengers. Transparency: Change to Consent Agenda that includes automatic approval of Bills & Accounts with no discussion of the millions we are paying out. Public admission of Open Meetings Act violation by pre-announcement of 7-0 vote of district staffing recommendations! Transparency? NO!
Accountability: Ex: Reducing Schools of Choice students in 2013 to around 40 from 80. Political pressure forced this choice! (To be more like Berkley and allow our families to stay here. Well, Berkley allowed 145 students!) Cost FPS $260,000 in revenue! Ex: Stating confidence in enrollment assumptions then a few months later stating they had no idea about the numbers being proposed! Ex: Choosing a new member from the same district magnet school to fulfill political promises, not a parent with children in 3 district schools! Accountability? NO!
You’ll hear about empowering teachers, staff and superintendent! That’s what boards do every day! It’s their job! Nothing new!
What you haven’t heard are ideas going forward to fit our Strategic Plan. How are we to configure the HS/MS, Elementary schools, DLC and UHS! I have many researched ideas and ready partners; too numerous to post here but these will be presented on my website and at my Meet-n-Greets in October!
What will I bring back to the board? Well, you should know that one board member only has one vote. But my vote, as all of my votes in the past, will be made based first and foremost “Does this benefit the education experience of our children?” I thoroughly research the issue, ask questions of those that propose the need and make my decision intelligently. Institutional knowledge of the district! I have never been told to vote one way or another! And if someone tried, I’d ignore them! No partisan politics! Knowledge & common sense!