2 Okemos School Board members re-elected; 1 new member

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By Cayden Royce
The Meridian Times

On Nov. 4, Dean Bolton, Amy Crites and Vincent Lyon-Callo were elected to 4-year terms on the Okemos Board of Education. Crites and Lyon-Callo were re-elected and Bolton was newly elected.

Crites had the mst votes, 4,790, or more than 30 percent. Bolton had second most votes with nearly 27 percent and 4,227 votes. Lyon-Callo secured the third seat with more than 15 percent of the votes, 54 more than Robert Tucker. The fifth candidate, Samer Naser, had 1,803 votes or 11.44 percent.

Bolton has volunteered in the district for 14 years. He runs the Okemos Education Foundation and has campaigned for district bond and millage proposals.

“I’ve been very involved and I felt that this was the next level to be involved,” he said.

His campaign efforts includedsocial media, a website, a Facebook page, yard signs and other community outreach opportunities. Bolton said the race between the five candidates wasn’t contentious. Bolton, Crites and Lyon-Callo met at Dusty’s Cellar in Okemos to await the election results.

“All five of us were running because we care about Okemos schools and we care about the education of the students,” he said.

Looking forward, Bolton said he wants avoid cutting programs without considering what the district has lost in the past 10 years.

As for Crites, this year’s election was mild, she said. The first time she ran there was negative campaigning against her and the second time, when she was re-elected, she ran unopposed. This was her third time being elected to the board and she said she was both nervous and somewhat confident.

“I really like the candidates that are running for school board and I feel like being on the board for the past eight years really speaks for itself,” Crites said.

Outside of board meetings, Crites runs three businesses out of her home. She said she is most looking forward to maintaining the board’s relationship with the administration and acting as a team player within the community.

Lyon-Callo said he expected the race to be close and that each candidate was a strong advocate for the schools. As a veteran member, Lyon-Callo said there are small things he can help the board improve on.
First, he said members of the community are concerned with increased classroom sizes in Okemos middle schools. However, the board is making incremental changes to solve the problem, he said.

“Taking six classes and putting them into five saves teachers salaries so we don’t have to make cuts,” Lyon-Callo said.

Another issue the board is currently addressing is its policy on student suspension and expulsion. Crites said the board is seeking alternative methods of discipline to keep students in school.

“We’ve had quite a few long-term suspensions and several expulsions in the last several years and we just felt that that wasn’t the best for the kids,” Crites said.

The board hasn’t discussed alternatives to school suspension and expulsion yet, but Crites said they will develop their own approach for the community.

“It might be kind of a conglomeration of a lot of different ideas,” she said.

At the next meeting on Nov. 10, Lyon-Callo said the board is voting on an athletic registration fee for students who have free or reduced lunches.

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