Lowell’s First Look met individually with all 8 candidates running for a position on the School Board for Lowell Area Schools, and who will appear on the ballot on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. There are three seats up for election by voters. In addition to our interview, we sent each candidate the same set of questions. In the weeks leading up to the election, we will bring you responses to the questions we asked in addition to a candidate profile. Answers are published verbatim and have not been edited. We asked candidates to keep their responses to around 200 words.
What do you see as the role of school board members within the district? And what role do you think parents and guardians should play?
The School boards role is to provide guidance to the administration by setting policy, approving budgets and proactively addressing concerns brought forward by parents and the community. Parents and guardians primary role is to ensure their children are prepared to learn and to provide feedback when necessary to the administration and or schoolboard about concerns. It is also to support board members and the administration in fostering a positive learning experience.
The role of school board members within our district is to keep the students as the focus. The board works collectively to create a shared vision, that is structured to achieve its goals while being accountable and advocating educational opportunities for all students in our district. Our goal is to see that the school district is well run.
The role of parents and guardians is to be a partner in their child’s education by showing and providing the necessary support for their education. When working together, LAS staff and parents can create and maintain a high-class educational program for students.
I feel that the role of the school board should be:
- To review and oversee the district’s operating policies
- Set goals for the district
- Oversee budget and spending
- Oversee maintenance of buildings and facilities
- Make decisions on curriculum changes with the advice of the district curriculum advisors
- Hire the superintendent when needed and perform superintendent reviews
- Oversee staffing and staff compensation
Parents and guardians know their children best and have the right and responsibility to oversee their child’s education. They should have access to curriculum information and should be able to restrict their children from materials they do not feel are appropriate. Parents and guardians can and should make requests and recommendations for policy changes, but it is important to remember there is more than one right way to raise and educate children.
The role of the School Board is to produce policies and procedures that give our students the best opportunity to be successful in life. The policies that we currently have are pretty solid. So I feel that another major role of the school’s board is the make certain that these policies are adhered to.
Parents/guardians are part of the boards eyes and ears. It’s not possible for the board to know all things that are happening in the schools so I welcome any info that they may have. Good or bad. That being said, I would hope that they would first follow the procedure for complaints or contention that is already in place before coming to the board. I find that most issues can be solved with one on one civil conversation. If things aren’t resolved there then you move up the chain of command.
A school board member’s main role within the district is to represent parents, as they are their primary constituents. Parents’ input should be honored and valued and as a school board member I will do my best to partner with and represent parents to ensure their concerns are heard. Parental involvement in kids’ education is the number 1 indicator of a child’s success and we need to do all we can to promote parental involvement in our schools. Additionally, I will listen to teachers to help ensure they have everything they need to successfully do their jobs, as teachers truly are the backbone of Lowell schools. A strong parent/teacher/student partnership is the most successful model for student success.
I believe Board of Education members are the voice of the community in the LAS district. I believe that BOE members should come from a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds to ensure proper representation of the community. As the voice of the community, I believe it is important that the BOE members are engaged with the community but, most importantly, with the families and students participating in the schools. As a group, I believe the Board of Education is responsible for helping to develop the overall mission and goals of the district alongside district administration, staff, and families. I do not believe the BOE should be micromanaging day-to-day operations as a rule; the BOE should be placing the right people in positions of management to carry out these duties and regularly evaluate the performance of those individuals. Parents and guardians are key to ensuring the district is meeting its mission and goals; ultimately, the BOE and LAS district need the endorsement and participation of our families to continue to operate. The BOE and District administration should remain transparent and available to families to ensure that any concerns are being addressed in a timely manner.
School board members play an important role in the district. They are in charge of the overall culture of the district—its priorities and its mode of operation. The Board hires the superintendent and works with him to hire the other administrators, teachers, and staff needed to carry out the Board’s goals. Board members are entrusted by the electors to carry out their duties in a way that reflects the will of the community, and they are answerable to the electors if they do not. Board members should not bring personal agendas to the position, but rather work as a team with other Board members and administrators to do what is needed for the District’s overall success.
Parents and guardians are the “first teachers” of their children. They obviously want the best opportunities for their students in our schools. They entrust their children’s education to the schools. Parents should take an active interest in their children’s education and school experience and have open lines of communication with teachers and principals.
Calvin Vander Boon (Note: Calvin Vander Boon’s name will appear on the November ballot, but he has notified us that he is withdrawing his candidacy for the LAS school board.)
School board members are elected to be a representative of the people. This means that board members are not elected to pursue their own agenda but to make and enforce policies and decisions that will benefit the community for the longest period of time. One key factor that should influence all decisions of board members is that the school is meant to be neutral grounds in the sense that it does not have policies or rules that discriminate against or show favoritism towards any individual or group.
The role of parents and guardians is to raise their child as they see fit without interference from any government agency including schools. As MCL 380.10 clearly states: “It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching and education of their children.” The school district’s job is to provide a quality education. Our laws clearly give ultimate authority to parents and the decisions of LAS board members and employees should not impede this freedom.
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