Archived Story

Three apply for vacant Niles school board seat

Published 9:14am Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Three people have applied to fill the open seat on the Niles Community Schools Board of Education vacated when Michael Waldron resigned last month.

Leigh Jones, a substitute teacher; Brent Wright, a driver for Canteen and H. Jason Auvil, a planning manager with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians have applied.

The school board will interview the applicants during a non-public finance committee meeting Friday. Board members Jeff Curry, Jon Martin and Kathy Zeider sit on the finance committee.

Interim Supt. Michael Lindley told board members during Monday’s regular meeting that they must appoint someone by May 21. If not, the responsibility falls to Berrien Regional Education Service Agency.

Whomever the board appoints will serve through December. If that person wants to run for the open seat, they would have to apply to do so in an upcoming election.

Lindley said the board must accept all applications, according to board policy.

Waldron resigned from his position April 21, citing displeasure with how the board handled the resignation of former Supt. Richard Weigel and concerns about the future of the district. Waldron had served on the board since July 2007. His term was set to expire in December 2016.

Following Waldron’s resignation, the district asked people interested in filling his seat to submit applications by May 5.

Also Monday, Lindley briefed the board about obstacles created from a new state policy requiring all students to take two years of a foreign language beginning next year.

Lindley said the requirement makes it difficult for students to have time to pursue elective classes, like the school’s Career and Technical Education programs, band and choir.

“We frequently read about the open jobs we have in Michigan for welders and other things and yet the state has so many requirements that our welding program is dying,” he said.

In addition, Lindley said special education students also have to take and pass two years of a foreign language beginning next year.

“That is going to be very difficult,” Lindley said, adding that the district would have to bring in two new teachers and an additional special education teacher to accommodate the change.

“Not only is it binding on kids’ opportunities to explore some options they might be very interested in and develop some skills that are marketable, it also is stretching resources,” he said.

Lindley encouraged board members, school staff, local employers and residents to discuss this issue with their representatives.

“If they are only hearing from the school community it doesn’t ring the bell quite as loudly as it does from the people in the business community who are looking for workers,” he said.

Also Monday, board member Jeff Curry said he enjoyed attending the Southside School prom, which is made possible through generous donations of time and resources.

“It means the world to those kids,” he said.

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