Five local school districts will have contested school board positions on the ballot Nov. 6, including Belding, Carson City-Crystal, Montabella, Tri County and Vestaburg.
Cori Anderson of Otsego Township, Jennifer “Jenni” Boroff of Otisco Township, Thomas Cameron of Belding and Robert Insley of Belding are all competing for two positions on the Belding Area Schools Board of Education.
Anderson is the supervisor of community programs at Spectrum Health and owner of Ridgeview Golf Club in Belding. She has served on the school board for 11 months and is a member of the school improvement team, the Wellness Committee, the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative and Belding Community Garden.
“The most important issue facing our district is financial,” Anderson said. “I’d like to see the district continue to grow as that brings more funding.”
Boroff is employed at Professional Benefits Services in Grand Rapids. She is the parent of students at Ellis and Woodview elementary schools, served on the Parent Teacher Organization and school improvement team and also volunteers at both elementary schools.
“My main concern for our district is that we are not making our cut scores,” Boroff said. “We need to pay more attention to the kids that fall in the middle with their learning. I would like to see a more positive relationship between the school board and the public, and school board and staff. Our board needs to move away from being a good old boy’s club.”
Cameron is retired and has 18 years of public education experience as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He also served 24 years in the USN, including the training of Naval aircrew.
“Declining enrollment must be addressed,” Cameron said. “It has been a serious problem due in large part to jobs leaving the area. As Michigan’s economy returns to normal, much of this problem should be alleviated all over the state. I would demand that principals visit each students family and personally find out if there was something that they could have done to keep the child in the district or go to home schooling.”
Insley is a service consultant at Premium Truck & Auto. He is board-certified by the Michigan Association of School Boards and is a lifelong Belding resident.
“I would like to see increased participation from all stakeholder groups in our district as a way to help improve our schools,” Insley said. “Also, it is important we promote/market our schools and community to help get people into the district to reverse the trend of losing students.”
Diane Demenov of Carson City and Randy Stearns of Riverdale are competing for an open seat on the Carson City-Crystal Area Schools Board of Education.
Demenov is employed at the Michigan Department of Corrections. She has a daughter who attends Carson City Elementary School.
“My main concern about the district is the classroom size, especially at the early elementary levels,” Demenov said. “I would like to accomplish a great learning environment with smaller class room sizes and teacher to student ratio so all children can learn. Every child learns in their own way and we need to have the adaptability to reach all children.”
Stearns is retired after 40 years with the Road Commission for Montcalm County. He said he would bring business and communication experience to the school board.
“I would listen closely to the stakeholders in the district, not only the ones with children in school but all stakeholders,” Stearns said. “We need to stay on track and up to date with technology to give our students that upper edge so when entering the job market they won’t be out the of the game. I also would like to see some academic programs added back into list of classes such as FFA and home economics.”
Bill Burggren of Edmore, Don Havlicek of Edmore and Scott Parks of Remus are all completing for one open seat on the Montabella Community Schools Board of Education.
Burggren is employed at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. He has two sons who attend Montabella schools.
“Communication between parents, teachers, coaches and administrators is my main concern,” Burggren said. “I have experienced the negative effects of poor communication firsthand and believe that forming committees for parents and faculty would bridge that gap. I would like to accomplish a sense of unity between students, parents, faculty and administrators to ensure students reach their full potential.”
Havlicek is retired after 40 years as an educator in three states, as well as a coach.
“The main concern is the lack of openness at board meetings,” Havlicek said. “I will insist that proper meeting structure includes input on measures by the citizenry prior to any vote being taken, and no decisions made in private except those mandated by law.”
Parks is the plant manager at Bandit Industries. He is a member of the Montabella Sports Boosters, Quarterback Club and volunteers at school and athletic events.
“I would strive to not let budgets cuts negatively impact the education of Montabella students by constant communication and planning between the board, the staff and the community members,” Parks said.
Janice “Jan” Dewey of Sand Lake and Carrie Paulen of Pierson are competing for one seat on the Tri County Area Schools Board of Education.
Dewey is retired after 38 years as an educator with Tri County Area Schools. She is currently a consultant as a counseling psychologist.
“I believe the Board of Education, administrators, staff, students, families and community needs to make a conscious effort to improve communication and provide opportunities to work together as we continue to improve our schools,” Dewey said. “We need to actively involve parents, teachers, and our community at every level.”
Paulen is a seventh grade teacher at Morley-Stanwood Community Schools. She is the parent of three students at Tri County and served on the school board in an interim capacity for one year.
“Funding is an issue that impacts all the schools in our area,” Paulen said. “I would look forward to working together to create solutions to potential funding issues.”
David Freeman of Vestaburg, Nicole Gorsuch of Vestaburg, Lynn Van Sickler of Vestaburg and Brian Zinn of Vestaburg are all competing for two open seats on the Vestaburg Community Schools Board of Education.
Freeman is employed at Modern Woodman Fraternal Financial. He has been on the school board for six years.
“Our budget, although the district has done an exceptional job in recent years it is always an area of concern,” Freeman said. “It is hard to keep morale up when our funding is so uncertain, but I am confident, if re-elected, that we can work to keep the budget in the black and help boost staff morale.”
Gorsuch is the product marketing manager for Dow Chemical Co. She believes she would bring experience in business, communication and finance to the school board.
“I feel that I would bring a completely different perspective to the school board, which is currently lacking,” Gorsuch said. “I see issues through the eyes of a businesswoman and a mother. I would certainly like to see more unity between the community and the school board.”
Van Sickler is a retired elementary school principal, teacher, coach and athletic director. He is also a current school board member.
“We need to continue to graduate students that will be successful in their chosen field and be productive and contributors to our society,” Van Sickler said. “I would like us to go ahead with our technology plans to give students the tools to be lifelong learners and adapt to changing career opportunities.”
Zinn is a supervisor/middle manager with the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is the father of two girls who attend Vestaburg schools and he volunteers for the district as a mentor.
“My main concern is the community, the faculty and students are not being involved enough during the input and decision processes,” Zinn said. “I would do this by reinforcing a more positive involvement by all of these individuals, so that collectively we can find solutions that benefit our district’s needs.”
For complete questionnaires from all candidates, see the general election special insert in today’s (Thursday) Daily News.