Filing deadlines near for school boardPublished 10:33am Thursday, January 21, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Throughout January, school districts have been paying special attention to the people who make up their school boards as the state marks School Board Recognition Month.
In the meantime, filing deadlines loom for those interested in getting involved and running for open seats in their respective district. Niles and Brandywine school districts will see two open seats on their board for prospective candidates.
In an article to mark the month, the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) said members “face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government.”
Some might say in Michigan especially, school board members face some daunting challenges. Niles will see a relative changing of the guard when current superintendent Doug Law resigns later this year and both districts face continuing financial challenges with state reductions in funding and a competitive “Race to the Top.”
Still, members of the community – at the available opportunities – fill out their paperwork and put in immeasurable effort to win a seat and a say on their district school boards.
“All Michigan citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role these elected public officials play in the education of our children,” the MASB article said.
In the Niles Community Schools district, two four-year terms will be up for grabs when that of trustee Elaine Miller and former trustee Scott Tyler, a seat currently filled by Jeff Curry, expire.
Brandywine Community Schools will also see two four-year terms on the ballot in May when seats currently held by Michael Shelton, who filled former trustee Rick Zache’s seat and current board president James Curran, expire.
Calling the role of school board member a “tremendous public service,” Brandywine Superintendent John Jarpe said the entity has a huge impact within the educational system.
“I guess you could say that it’s probably one of the lesser known public offices,” Jarpe said Tuesday. “I can’t think of a more important public service duty.”
Those interested can pick up their Affidavit of Identity at the county clerk’s office, along with a nominating petition or pay the $100 non-refundable filing fee.
In Niles, petitions require the minimum of 40 and no more than 100 signatures by registered voters. Based on population that number is less for the Brandywine district, only six and no more than 20 required.
Curry, who made a bid for a four-year term in the last school board election, plans to run again.
“I have had school board members from other schools mention to me that they do not know why anyone would be interested in being on a school board right now,” he said. “School board work is not for the faint of heart at this time, as reduced state funding is going to force every school board to make unpopular decisions. We are at the edge of a cliff and the federal stimulus dollars helped to hide our funding problems this year.”
Still, he said, “there has never been a more important time for people interested in the education of our kids to get involved in making the tough decisions we are going to face in the near future.”
The deadline for filing in the running for school board seats is Feb. 9.