LETTER TO THE EDITOR: In support of Brandywine teachers, superintendent
Published 12:00 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023
I am writing to show my support to the Brandywine Community Schools teachers and the superintendent. After watching Monday’s school board meeting, I feel even more than ever that the board president, Mr. Payne, is wanting complete control of the school board. They school board needs to focus on the students and staff and not so much on micromanaging everyone.
The MASB, the Michigan Association of School Boards, has a good information on indicators of an effective board and board members. The full list is found at www.MASB.org.
They should Focus on Students, “ Focus on issues that improve student achievement.” That is being pushed aside and even question at numerous board meetings, including Monday’s where tutoring was mentioned during public comment.
There should be Accountability. “Base decisions, comments and questions on objective data.” The school board is not listening to all viewpoints when they discuss any topic. To the public it seems as it’s only the president’s view on what is being discussed and no one else matters. They need to take the time to listen, research, and work together to make a plan. At Monday’s meeting it was brought up that maybe they should also include the lessons for the books that are being discussed as inappropriate. It was quickly shot down.
Another way to show a board is effective is through culture and conduct at board meetings. For this category, I would emphasize every bullet point from the MASB. The board member “Value differences of opinion and don’t let differences degenerate into personality conflicts.” This is clearly not happening, and from the public’s point of view, it looks as if the new board members do not care at all what the existing board members have to say. “Focus the board agenda and meeting on issues related to improving student achievement.” As I mentioned earlier, the focus has never been on the students. It has only been on books and policies the new board members don’t agree with. For a second imagine how amazing it would be if they took all of their focus that they did on books and put it towards the students. “Publicly support the superintendent and staff.” In. The past few weeks there have been social media posts regarding teachers and the superintendent and to my knowledge there has not been anything said by the board to stand up to them. Instead at Monday’s school board meeting with the superintendent brought up the articles the president interrupted him to tell him that they are not talking about what was in the news articles. To the public it appears as the board president does not defend his staff because he believes the articles to be true.
”Seek to build consensus and an environment of trust and respect among their fellow board members.” The new board members have not done anything to earn trust or respect.
Lastly the MASB discusses Ethics. The board should “Ensure that familial or business relationships or special interest group affiliations don’t contribute to a bias in decisions.” Every single new board member was financially backed by We The Parents, a right winged group. Angela Seastrom is the We The Parents treasurer as well as the secretary for the Berrien County GOP. To the public it appears they came into to this board with a preconceived agenda. The board should “create an environment that discourages micromanagement or undermining of the superintendent.” Monday’s meeting along with many others shows the president needs to have all control. He will not let the superintendent do his job without wanting to be a part of every single thing he does. The superintendent is in charge of managing day to day duties, the president needs to let him do it! He also seems to want his opinion to be the only one that matters.
Kristina Smith, Bridgman
– Concerned for students, teachers and staff